The Patriarch Club

If there were a prize for the most offensive and unacceptable observation on the gangrape, it would certainly go to Mohan Bhagwat

Just when it seemed that after the nationwide rage over the unspeakable Delhi gangrape and murder even the usually insensitive and indifferent government had belatedly bestirred itself into taking remedial action, there are deeply disturbing signs that, instead of the situation getting better, it might get worse.

To be sure, the laws on all sexual crimes against women are being made stricter speedily enough, and the trial of the monsters who committed the unspeakable crime has already begun — something that was virtually unheard of in the past. Yet the reality on the ground is becoming all the more alarming. Rapes and rapes-cum-murders are continuing across the country. Worse, so is the habitual reluctance, indeed refusal, of the police even to register the first information report, FIR. In other words, all the lava of protests, soul-searching, warnings by top leaders and the talk of “changing mindsets” has had little impact on the police and the local administration, the cutting edge of our governing system. Under the circumstances, what is the point of enacting stringent laws if these, like existing ones, would remain unimplemented?
Noida, technically in Uttar Pradesh is actually a suburb of Delhi. It is here that the “higher authorities” after dragging their feet “suspended” five constables for refusing to register a case of rape and murder. A former super-cop, Kiran Bedi, whatever her present politics, has rightly said that refusal to register FIRs should lead to instant dismissal. Suspensions are all too often reversed as soon as the fuss subsides. But who cares?
This brings me to the scandal about not the slightest action being taken against the officers of the Delhi police whose conduct has attracted condemnation not only from the public but also from the higher bureaucracy and some politicians.
Even a rookie policeman knows that under the rules of lathicharge, no one who has either fallen on the ground or is fleeing is to be beaten. Yet countless TV images and videos show the brutes of Delhi police thrashing young girls lying on the ground at India Gate or trying to run away. An officer whose badge of DCP rank is clearly visible is seen with his booted foot on the neck of a hapless girl writhing on the Rajpath. Has anyone said boo to him?
Asked about these and other excesses, such as unleashing water cannons on totally peaceful youngsters during the freezing winter, Delhi’s police commissioner, Neeraj Kumar, declared pompously: “When the police take action, there is bound to be collateral damage”, reminding his listeners of the arrogant American generals who used to similarly justify the deaths of innocent civilians in the US bombings of Iraq.
No one who knows anything about the successive generations of the Indian Police Service (IPS) would have the slightest doubt about the high caliber and fair-mindedness of B. Raman, formerly the number two man in the external intelligence agency, R&AW, and now a respected analyst whose advice the government seeks frequently. He has been constrained to write that
Mr Kumar should be “dismissed”, and the Delhi police “reorganised under a commissioner chosen from outside the Delhi cadre.”
Of course, the vexed problem of police reforms is far wider than the reorganisation of the police in the nation’s capital. It needs much more space to discuss but its essence is simple: Unlike in other democracies where the police are servant of the law, here they are servants of the politicians in power at the given time. This might explain why, despite the Supreme Court’s clearest directive in 2006, both the Central and state governments have failed to carry out the necessary police reform. No wonder, another super-cop and former police commissioner of Delhi, Ved Marwah, said on TV that the Indian police, still governed by the colonial-era Indian Police Act, 1861, have become “armed militias” of the political parties ruling various states.
However, why blame the police alone? Arguably, the gloomiest part of the post-December 16 happenings is a virtual fusillade of appalling, often reprehensible, utterances on the subject of rape and of women’s rights and rightful place in society by leaders of almost every single party, many of them holding ministerial or high party posts.
Most of these have already invited strong opprobrium during TV discussions and newspaper commentaries, but like a monsoon flood there is no end to them. Unfortunately, in available space, all of them cannot be commented on.
For the present it should suffice to say, that if there were a prize for the most offensive and unacceptable observation in this category, it would certainly go to Mohan Bhagwat, the supreme head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a supposedly “cultural organisation” based in Nagpur that controls the principal Opposition party, the BJP. It is this gentleman who would soon decided whether to give Nitin Gadkari a second term as BJP president, and later choose the saffron party’s prime ministerial candidate.
Never mind his demonstrably false statement that rapes take place only in West-oriented urban India and not in the villages constituting Bharat. But what is this troubled country to make of his doctrine that women “must take responsibility for domestic work and leave the issue of roji-roti to their men” and much else in the same vein? This is almost a mirror image of the fatwas issued by the Pakistani Taliban who recently shot the brave Pakistani schoolgirl Malala for asserting women’s right to have education.
The irony of ironies is that neither the Congress nor any other political party opposed to the BJP and its overlord, the RSS, is in a position to criticise
Mr Bhagwat or his BJP defenders. For every single party is tarred with the same brush. Indeed, the first culprit making shocking sexist remarks was a Congress MP and son of the President. Others of all hues followed him. Some even suggested that the women who were raped also bore some responsibility for the crime!

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