“I’ve just spoken with the prime minister. I requested him for a special session of Parliament to frame a law to implement exemplary punishment for crimes against women,” the main opposition party leader in the Lok Sabha (the Indian Lower House of Parliament) Sushma Swaraj Twittered on Saturday.
Public outrage over the government’s inadequate response on the brutal gang rape of a 23-year old trainee paramedic a week ago in a moving chartered transport bus is still continuing. The victim was heading home after a movie with her male companion hardly after a couple of hours darkness had fallen over the capital city. Five to seven people had attacked the couple, they had beaten up the victim’s friend before shredding off her clothes with a blade and assaulting her in the front compartment of the bus. Later the goons had dumped them in a secluded corner in Mahipalpur in suburban Delhi, after robbing them of even their cell phones. The case was, however, registered by the police only 3 days after the incident had occurred on December 15. As pressure mounted from authorities up the ladder the police arrested the driver of the chartered transport bus followed by 6 others.
Meanwhile the opposition party leader said the people were “genuinely angry” and demanded capital punishment for perpetrators of such crimes. A group of female students who had carried out a protest march to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit’s house returned disappointed because despite being a woman herself the CM didn’t have the courtesy to meet them and share their pain and humiliation. Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde later told the press that “steps will be taken for the amendment of the criminal law for enhanced and more effective punishment in the rarest of the rare cases of sexual assault such as this”. However he put off the issue of death penalty for rapists saying, “it involved complex legal issues and will be taken up with the law ministry and consultations will be held with the experts before government takes a decision.”
Over the last 6 years the number of rape cases reported in Delhi and neighboring state Haryana has escalated by 25 percent. Ostensibly over the years the authorities have failed in making the capital city any safer for its female population to the extent that working women and students habitually carry blades and pepper sprays for self defence while commuting.
On Sunday, a week after the mishap, Home Secretary R.K. Singh issued a Certificate of Excellence to Delhi Police. The very next day 5 police officers were suspended from service citing negligence of duty on the fateful night of December 15.
In the meantime Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition government in the center is embroiled in a new controversy over facilitating the temporary release from detention of two Italian marines who had shot dead two fishermen from the southern state of Kerala in Indian territorial waters to travel to their home country for celebrating Christmas and New Year. Opposition parties had a field day in alleging that the country of origin of the Italian marines in custody and that of the president of the ruling majority party in the center being one and the same couldn’t be accidental. The insinuation gained momentum pointing out that parole has been denied to old and sick people like the wheel chair bound Peoples’ Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasser Madani who has been diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, cardiac disorders, disc prolapse and cervical spondylosis. Though not proven, police in Kerala’s neighboring state Karnataka, which is ruled by Sushma Swaraj’s Bhartiya Janata Party, accuse Madani of being party to hatching the plot of the Bangaluru serial blasts that killed 58 people. Madani is held in custody since August 2010.
Like in any other democratic state the constitution of India also ensures freedom, liberty and equality to all its citizens. Nonetheless during implementation, more often than not, the definition of equality is subjected to variance.
Apparently one swallow doesn’t make a summer.