A Dangerous Trend

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Uttar Pradesh has failed to protect honour of women

THE national outrage over the recent series of crimes against women in Uttar Pradesh cannot be assuaged by the false claims and misinformation the Yogi Adityanath government has decided to counter it with. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked Adityanath to take strict action against the police officers concerned, indicating that there was suspicion of complexity of the police force in abetment of the crime. There appears to be no end to crimes against women in the state. Close on the heels of the rape and murder of 19-year-old girl in Hathras in the country’s most populated state came the news of a 22-year-old woman from Balrampur district and hailing from the Dalit community succumbing to the injuries sustained by her. In yet another case a 14-year-old Dalit girl was stoned to death in Bhadohi district. Uttar Pradesh had also seen similar cases in August when a woman in her 20s was found with grievous injuries in Meerut and a teenage girl was raped and burned by two men in Gorakhpur district, the home district of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. In other cases, a 13-year-old girl was raped and killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri district, while a six-year- old girl was raped and brutalized by a man, who evaded arrest for a week.

Even as there is all-round outrage against the barbarities against women, most of whom belong to the underprivileged castes, the police chief, in whose jurisdiction Hathras is situated, has chosen to give a different direction to the crime. The Inspector General of Police, Aligarh region, told the media that “initial reports did not suggest rape.” This claim from the police came despite the media reporting that the mother of the victim girl had told them that she had found her daughter naked with her tongue protruding out. She also said that there were enough indications of her daughter having been raped. Though the victim of the assault was taken to Chandpa police station by her mother and brother in critical condition, the police told the family “to take her away”, which indicates how casually the law enforcement agency took the issue despite it being a heinous crime. Are the police trying to give a false direction to the probe and mislead the nation in an attempt to shield the perpetrators of crime?

The action of the police to cremate the body of the young girl in the dead of night against the customs and wishes of her family indicates that police were trying to end the matter soonest. Were they directed to do so by their political masters or other vested interests? Was the body burnt to eliminate evidence of rape or prevent opponents of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the state any opportunity to derive political mileage? While the police showed laxity in probing the crime for over two weeks, they showed remarkable alacrity in imposing prohibitory orders that too for a full month in the Hathras area. It is appalling to note that rather than fighting to eliminate the crime the UP police and government appears to be working towards eliminating the evidence that could lead to conviction of the criminals. The police actions clearly indicate that they are culpable of protecting the accused.

It is distressing to see that the victim of rape and violence was denied equality before the law and equality in protection as promised by the Constitution of India of both in life and death. It was only after her death that the Chief Minister chose to speak on the issue. For four years in a row UP has topped the states in crimes against women. Despite the rising graph the state government has not taken effective action to arrest it. The trigger-happy state police have “liquidated” scores of criminals since the present government came to power but the same police force have not been able to save the honour of women. There have been allegations that laws have been used selectively against certain classes of people while the police have chosen to turn blind eye against those enjoying patronage of the ruling party, a dangerous trend with far-reaching consequences, not just for UP but also for the rest of the country.