Heinous crime

Heinous crime of rape and molestation of a 23-year girl in the capital in a running bus has shaken entire nation. Civil society has risen in strong and widespread protest against the crime, against administration and against the police. In particular, student community in Delhi and other parts of the country has taken the leading role in these protestations. They are justified because the one so brutally victimized is a woman, a student and a youth. The heinous crime is one that poses a serious challenge to the entire nation. It has brought shame to us; it has shown to the world how inefficient and incompetent our police and administrative machinery is in protecting ordinary civilians particularly the weaker sex against criminal attacks. But let us take a pause and revisit the incident in retrospect.
A quick recall of the aftermath of this brutality is both reassuring and distressing. It is reassuring for the speed with which law enforcing authorities and administrative machinery were galvanized into action. First and foremost was to provide top class medical aid to the victim. She was admitted within an hour of incident to a prestigious hospital and top doctors were deployed to save her life. The best medical support that is available in the country has been provided and on Government expenses and the victim is struggling for life while doctors are maintaining 24 hours supervision and vigil to monitor her condition. When she recovered partially from unconsciousness, the magistrate recorded her statement which is of vital importance before the court of law.
This much is about the victim. Within 48 hours of committing the crime, two alleged culprits were apprehended and put under police custody. Within three days all the six alleged persons were in the police net. The Delhi High Court expressed pain and sorrow on the incident and the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court Justice D Murugesan took suo motu cognizance of the incident on judicial side. Delhi Chief Minister called emergency meeting of her cabinet to discuss the law and order situation arising from the protest demonstrations in the city and got into touch with the Union Home Minister. Delhi Police Commissioner came out with a press interview spelling out the steps police had taken and the process of investigation initiated. Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde expressed deep sorrow on the incident, promised reform in laws related to sexual assault on women aimed at making them very stringent. He requested the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court to establish fast-track court and conduct proceedings of the rape case on day to day basis in order to speed up investigation and fixing of charges. The administrative committee of Delhi High Court has resolved to issue directions to all Session Judges in Delhi that cases of sexual assault on women will be tried on day-to-day basis from the date of commencement of trial.
On political level, the Prime Minister in his statement expressed shock and sorrow on the incident and promised the nation that he would take steps to ensure foolproof protection of women against crimes like rape and molestation. The leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha expressed grief and anguish on the incident but appealed to the people especially the youth to maintain calm and not get provoked because the wheels of justice should be allowed to move. She even suggested that punishment should be enhanced and even life imprisonment and death penalty should also be considered for the culprits. The Congress President and Secretary General met with the delegation of protestors, listened to them will full attention, assured them quick justice and agreed that mechanisms would be developed to ensure that severest punishment was given to the culprits in such crimes. UPA Coordination Committee Chairperson Sonia Gandhi walked out to sit with the night protestors and told them that she was one with them and wanted the Government to take full cognizance of the situation and ensure protection of women in this country. The Home Minister ordered constitution of a three member committee of leading law knowing personalities headed by retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India Justice J.S. Verma with terms of reference to fix the responsibility of the crime and to suggest measures for enhancing the punishment for the crime of rape.
All these measures have been taken with lightening speed allowing no laxity at any stage. This is a clear proof that the Government is seriously handling the issue and wants it to be taken to its logical conclusion. The Prime Minister has gone to the length of saying that he agrees that the protestors have a genuine grievance and he is sorry for what has happened. The distressing part of the incident is that while a very ugly and inhuman act has taken place, and the civil society has rightly protested against it, where is the need of resorting to violence, damaging public property, burning public transport buses and private vehicles and above all breaking barricades and inviting the police to open tear gas shells and other repressive measures. Where is the reason to challenge the police and invite its wrath? Apprehensions are that anti-social elements have infiltrated into the youth protesting bodies and they have their agenda of creating law and order situation in the capital. This is unacceptable. This is our country, and we are not supposed to damage our own property and create lawlessness under one pretext or the other. The Home Minister and the Delhi Chief Minister both have said that if it is found that there has been dereliction of duty on the part of the police personnel including higher ranks, law will take its course and they will not be spared. The case is being investigated by impartial authority and it will take its time to establish the responsibility. Protesting youth should allow the law to take its natural course. We would, therefore, appeal to all sections of civil society to observe calm and peace and let the law enforcing machinery move. No arbitrary action can be taken and legal action will take its time.

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