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Haryana’s shame: analysis
Speedy justice and alert police can deter rapists
Geetanjali Gayatri/TNS

Chandigarh, November 4
Their stories are all different yet they share the same fate. Be it Hisar, Jind, Fatehabad or Yamunanagar, the victims of rape are condemned to bear the cross and are stigmatised as “accused” even one year after the horrifying incidents as was shown by the series carried recently in The Tribune.

The reason: a poor justice-delivery system made worse by an insensitive society and a patriarchal culture. “The answer lies not only in fast-tracking the trials alone, but also in having time-bound investigations.

“The longer investigations and trials linger, the greater the scope of manipulation,” said Haryana ADGP (Crime against Women) KK Mishra.

Mishra added that caste pressures, money matters, hostile witnesses are a reality that nobody can deny when the cases linger on for months or years. "We are also alive to the need of sensitising policemen at the level of the police stations since most of them are well-versed in handling hardcore crime like murders and dacoity but sometimes fail to do justice in cases requiring sensitivity," Mishra said.

In Jind’s Sachakheda case where Meena immolated herself after being gang raped, the family has accused the police of shoddy investigation and withholding crucial evidence against a policeman accused of aiding the escape of the guilty and acquittal by the court.

“The policeman had claimed that he was on duty. The onus was on him to prove his statement and there were call records to show his location. The police chose to stay mum,” Meena’s father said.

Haryana’s Director General of Police, SN Vashistha, emphasises that security of women is top priority. “We have constituted teams to investigate these cases instead of leaving it to one officer and opened crisis centres in Gurgaon and Faridabad where doctors, policemen and counsellors handle such cases together.

“Besides a helpline, we have introduced women’s PCRs, increased patrolling around educational institutions and insist on registration of an FIR immediately, arrests of accused within 30 hours and put up a challan within 15 days against three months given by the government. We are also inducting more women into the force,” he said.

Despite these claims of attempted “clean police dealings”, pressures of all kinds continue to weigh down the victim and her family. If Rano’s father compromised with the families of the accused to make peace with his life and make it more livable, it was nothing out of the ordinary, said sociologist Prof SR Ahlawat of Rohtak’s Maharishi Dayanand University.

“A number of rapes go unreported because the entire village joins hands to bury the crime by exercising all kinds of pressures on the victim’s family to enter into a compromise which has the compensation element built in. The economic dependence of the lower castes on the higher castes or the well-off is another reason for victim’s family succumbing to a compromise,” Prof Ahlawat said. Flowing against the tide is something the poor, landless villagers cannot afford and give in. Terming the spurt in gang-rapes like the Hisar and the Jind case as a “dangerous trend”, Panjab University’s Prof Rajesh Gill, a sociologist, said, “Earlier, an individual was most unlikely to commit a crime in company. However, this has changed to make way for a newer trend where men commit crimes in groups, each incited by the other and hope they will get away. Sensuality has been glamorised to such an extent that teasing and molesting have become fun. They believe such a violation is fun and it is escapable.”

Favouring firm handling of such cases — even death penalty in some — to serve as a deterrent to the others, transparent police investigations and fast-tracking trials, Gill said creating the fear of the law would serve the purpose, a view seconded by All-Indian Democratic Women’s Association’s Jagmati Sangwan.

“Haryana is a closed society where men and women live in their own different worlds. Allowing greater mingling of the two sexes at the school and college level, tutoring the children on equality of sexes, checking discrimination and inculcating a political will to come out in support of such victims is the only way forward,” she said adding that most politicians only want to use a case, when it happens, to score brownie points instead of serving the interest of the victim’s family.

The khaps, holding considerable clout in Haryana and standing up for the most preposterous of ideas including banning of jeans for women and use of mobile phones and doling out “justice”, keep mum on rapes.

“We condemn rapes but don’t advocate boycotting families since the accused and the victim are already known to each other in most cases,” remarks Baljit Singh Malik of the Malik khap.

Many feel that the few recently started fast-track courts in Haryana could help in quick disposal of cases only if the investigating agency and prosecution act in tandem to bring out the truth before witnesses turn hostile or the victim’s family chooses to bow out. 





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