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Posts Tagged ‘Sunderlal Patwa

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan suffers from chronic verborrhea. He shoots off jumlas with greater rapidity than in even Narendra Modi. If the rape of a child is highlighted in the media, he takes no time in announcing that child rapists will be given death sentence and his government will bring in the next session of the Assembly the bill to amend the relevant section of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). If a rape is highlighted in the media, he promises death sentence for the rapist by amending the law. If a gang-rape is highlighted in the media, he shouts with full force the death sentence for all the rapists by amending the law in the next session of the Assembly. At present the IPC stipulates from seven years’ rigorous imprisonment to life term for rape, depending on the circumstances.

One thing, he has never moved to introduce a bill to amend the IPC. Secondly, his jumlas come out only when the crime is highlighted in the media. Scores of incidents of molestation and rape take place regularly in Madhya Pradesh outside the big cities and away from the media glare but Chouhan was never heard saying that he could not sleep because of that incident or that he will ensure that the rapist will be awarded the death sentence. Madhya Pradesh, incidentally records the highest molestation/rape incidents in the country. The State Assembly was told earlier this year that on an average, 11 women were raped every day and six women were gang-raped every week in the State during 2016, over half of the victims being minor. Between February 2016 and mid-February 2017, as many as 4279 women were raped and 248 were gang-raped in the State. Of the 4279 rape victims, 2260 were minors. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the State had 5076 such cases in 2014 and 4391 cases in 2015.

The short-lived BJP government of Uma Bharti had addressed itself to the problem of humiliation of women in public and moved a bill in the Assembly to provide harsher punishment to the offenders. She, though, could not see it through. Babulal Gaur had replaced her as the chief minister by the time the bill was passed. It became part of the statute book in December 2004.

The bill added Subsection-A to Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code (use of criminal force to outrage the modesty of woman) and provided that the offender ‘shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to fine.’ The main Section provides for a maximum punishment of up to two years. Besides, the Madhya Pradesh amendment also provides for the same punishment to whoever abets or conspires in the act, which is not there in the main Section.

Difficult to say how the amended Section would have been enforced had Uma Bharti remained at the helm of affairs. Her successors (Babulal Gaur and then Shivraj Singh Chouhan), however, did not show any interest in this. The amended law was consigned to the archives once the gazette notification was made. Today most of those concerned – the politicians, the police officers and, of course, those for whose benefit the Act was amended — are not even aware that such a law exists.

Crime, particularly the crimes against women, has been steadily going up in Madhya Pradesh for quite some time. It was during the BJP government of Sunderlal Patwa that Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest number of heinous crimes including murder, rape and dacoity. The trend continued almost unabated during the ten-year Congress regime of Digvijaya Singh. Bad law and order, with emphasis on crimes against women, formed part of Uma Bharti’s vigorous campaign for the November 2003 Assembly elections, along with what was then described as BSP (bijli, sadak, pani). Being a woman, she had shown particular sensitivity towards the plight of women. Under her leadership, the BJP captured power with an overwhelming majority.

It would be interesting to note that Chouhan, when he replaced Babulal Gaur as Chief Minister in November 2005, believed there was no rule of law in the State. This he put as his top priority. The Governor’s customary address to the Assembly at the beginning of Chouhan’s first budget session had specifically stated: ‘Meri Sarkar ki prathamikata kanoon ka raaj sthapit karana hai’ (the priority of my government is to establish the rule of law). The Governor’s address is always approved by the cabinet. Unfortunately, the law and order in the State has since been steadily deteriorating.

A major reason for this state of affairs is the total personalisation, not politicisation but personalisation, of the police force (once described by Madhya Pradesh High Court judge as ‘criminals in uniform’). Secondly, there are too many IPS officers and an acute shortage of the lower staff who do the field work. To top it all, there is the pathetic insensitivity of the police almost at every level. by the

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The Chandigarh stalking incident has once again focussed attention on the working of the police which is still governed by a law enacted by the British more than 156 years ago. The daring of the victim and her family background (her father being an IAS officer) have made the incident a talking point all over the country, forcing the police to give up their intention to dismiss it as a minor incident.
The 29-year-old woman was going in her car when two persons in a car blocked her way, banged on her windows and even tried to force the door open. Finally, a police patrol team came, responding to her SOS. She duly lodged a complaint of attempt to abduct her with the criminal intention. One of the accused happened to be Vikas Barala, son of Haryana BJP president’s son.
As the son of a high profile ruling party leader was involved, the police diluted the charges with the result that Barala and his friend were granted bail within hours whereas the attempt to abduct is a more serious crime. The police also said that the CCTV cameras on the route were not functioning. That was till the victim, Varnika Kundu, created a ruckus. Following this, the police promptly ‘retrieved’ the CCTV cameras and even confirmed Varnika’s version of the incident.
Talks of reforming the police and making the force accountable to the society have been going on at various levels for decades but no one has made an honest attempt in this respect. The British rulers had enacted the Police Act of 1861 after the mutiny of 1857 to establish a police force which could be used to consolidate and perpetuate their rule in this country, by terrorising, oppressing and suppressing the natives if necessary. The tragedy was that the British, when they left the country, handed over the power not to the people of this country but to a bunch of politicians who soon saw the advantage of keeping the British-constituted police force intact for their own use. Little wonder that the Police Act of 1861 must be the only one, out of thousands of acts inherited by us from the colonial regime, which has not been amended even once so far.
The Congress was in power at the Centre and in the States most of the time after independence. That may be the reason why the Congress leaders scarcely felt the need for changing the Police Act. Opposition leaders occasionally raised their voice against the continuation of the Act, Ram Manohar Lohia being the most vocal of them. But the voice of the Opposition was much too feeble to make the ruling party to take notice.
In the 1980s, BJP president Lal Krishna Advani scarcely opened his mouth without demanding repeal or amendment of the Police Act of 1861. When he became Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in the Atal Behari Vajpayee government, this hypocrite not only did not remember his oft-repeated demand but used the police force like the British had used it. Of all the persons, even Congress Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh had started harping on the need to change the Police Act of 1861, but only when he had foreseen the rout of Congress at the close of his second term. He had himself used the police arbitrarily against his opponents. Narration of macabre rape of a hapless tribal woman or a grisly murder of a poor farmer never appeared to affect Digvijaya Singh who continued to smile or indulge in frolics, as those attending the Assembly sessions had observed all those years. Criticism of the working of the police had, however, been a different matter. The former raja of Raghogarh would promptly be on his feet urging the Speaker to expunge the remarks against the police. The chemistry of his complexion would change as he tried to defend the police.
The BJP’s Sunderlal Patwa made the same nefarious use of the police as his Congressi successor did later. Four persons were arrested by the Indore police for possessing heroin in 1991. The case against them was registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPSA), which makes the offence non-bailable. As it came to be known that one of the arrested persons was Ehsan, younger brother of Patwa’s smuggler-friend Mohd Shafi, the police tore ten pages of the Roznamcha and made fresh entries about the case in order to enable the four criminals to get bail. Patwa, instead of booking the police officers under Section 204 IPC, patted them on the back.


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Outright Perilous!

An egoist as the head of the government is bad enough. An egotist is a nuisance as his constant chant of I…, I…., I….. jars on the listeners’ years. But when he loses touch with the reality and starts believing his imaginary achievements to be his real achievements, that’s outright perilous.

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