IAMC Weekly News Roundup - July 14th, 2014 - IAMC
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IAMC Weekly News Roundup – July 14th, 2014

In this issue of IAMC News Roundup

News Headlines

Opinions & Editorials

UK fights for Britons killed in Gujarat riots (Jul 12, 2014, Times of India)

Britain has asked India to speed up action against the killers of three Britons murdered during the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat. Foreign secretary William Hague made the request while raising British concerns about the delay in justice for the three during his recently-concluded India visit.

“The Foreign Secretary raised this case during his call on Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, the appropriate person to raise consular issues with,” said a foreign office spokesperson. “The foreign secretary raised our concern about the delays in taking forward these cases and undertook to follow up with more detail in writing. Mrs Swaraj took note of our concerns.”

British brothers Saeed and Shakil Dawood were killed along with their friend, Mohammed Aswat. They were among over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, killed in the riots. The three men of Gujarati origin were visiting the state as tourists when they were killed. The remains of the three are yet to be returned even after 12 years. Six men were initially charged with the murders. But they were released on bail and a number of key witnesses turned hostile.…

The mob circled the jeep and asked the occupants their religious identity. “The tourists answered they were British citizens and were Muslims. The hired driver was then dragged out of the jeep and attacked with sticks and killed on the spot,” the statement said. “His body was then thrown back into the vehicle and set alight. In the meantime, the British tourists were chased to a nearby farm. Mohammed Aswat and Imran were stabbed and left to dead. Imran miraculously survived and he recalls Saeed and Shakil pleading with the mob to spare all their lives.”

The family said it has endured this terrible tragedy and their grief is compounded by the lack of serious Indian police investigation. “The family has had to visit the crime scene themselves, find vital clues and collate forensic evidence including the charred remains of bodies,” the statement said.



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Cop accused by CBI of firing at Ishrat is back at work (Jul 12, 2014, Indian Express)

Weeks after Gujarat reinstated IPS officer G L Singhal, one of the key accused in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan alleged fake encounter case, another accused policeman is back at work. The suspension of constable Anaju Chaudhary, accused by the CBI of firing 10 rounds from a sten gun at Ishrat and three others, was revoked on July 2 by the state government. He has been posted to the State Reserve Police (SRP) camp in Godhra.

Chaudhary is the third accused to be reinstated. Inspector Bharat A Patel, who was arrested but never chargesheeted, was the first to return to work. He is currently posted at Prantij police station in Sabarkantha district. On May 27, the government revoked the suspension of Singhal. The order reinstating him as commandant of the SRP in Gandhinagar was with retrospective effect from May 16.

Nineteen-year-old Mumbai girl Ishrat, her friend Pranesh Pillai (alias Javed Sheikh), Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed by Gujarat police officers near Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004. The officers claimed they were gunned down in an encounter, that they were Lashkar-e-Toiba operatives on a mission to kill the then chief minister Narendra Modi. But the CBI said their investigation found nothing to suggest that the four had come to assassinate Modi. Two earlier probes – by a magistrate and a special investigation team constituted on the orders of the Gujarat High Court – had declared the encounter as fake.

The magistrate had said the officers killed the four to get promotions and laurels.In February this year, the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet in the case – the two chargesheets have been filed against 11 accused. On May 7, the agency gave a clean chit to Gujarat’s former home minister Amit Shah, citing insufficient evidence.



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Why give a top post to murder accused: Congress (Jul 10, 2014, Times of India)

Congress slammed BJP over appointment of Amit Shah as party chief, asking whether the saffron party had “limited talent” that forced it to go in for an accused in a murder charge for the top post. “The nation is obviously mystified as to how no other better talent is available in BJP except a murder accused on bail and formally externed for two years from one part of India,” said Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi.

The party termed the appointment as unprecedented, saying Shah is an accused in a murder charge, and is on bail. Describing Shah’s appointment as BJP chief as a “sad day for democracy”, AAP said BJP had lowered the minimum moral qualification for the post.

“By appointing Mr Shah as its chief, the BJP has lowered the minimum moral qualification required for leaders to head major political parties in the country. It is difficult to recall any other example in which a leader who faced serious criminal charges including murder, extortion and kidnapping was anointed as chief of a national political party,” a statement by the party said.

AAP said Shah is currently out on bail and is facing serious charges of having masterminded the alleged fake encounters of Sohrabuddin Sheikh, his wife Kausarbi and an eyewitness in the case Tulsiram Prajapati.

“In his first major speech in Parliament as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi had stressed on deciding cases of MPs facing criminal charges within a year to free this important institution of democracy from criminals. Now, by appointing an individual who is facing trial in cases of murder, conspiracy, extortion, kidnapping, destruction of evidence and wrongful confinement as party president – are Mr Modi and BJP indicating that office-bearers of political parties enjoy immunity from criminalization of politics,” AAP said.



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Home Ministry has destroyed over 1.5 lakh files: CPM (Jul 9, 2014, IBN)

Citing media reports, a CPI-M member on Wednesday claimed in Rajya Sabha that the Home Ministry had destroyed over 1.5 lakh crucial files on the instruction of the Prime Minister, triggering uproar and adjournment of the House. Raising the matter during the Zero Hour, P Rajeeve said that the destroyed files included some historical documents relating to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and the Cabinet discussions held immediately thereafter.

He alleged that instructions to destroy the files were given by the Prime Minister immediately after taking oath, even as the claims were dismissed by the government. “I would like to know why this decision was taken in a hurry,” Rajeeve said, with several members from the opposition benches associating themselves with his concern.

“You cannot scrap history by destroying secret files,” Sharad Yadav (JD-U) said. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad dismissed the charges, saying, “I deny it emphatically that the Prime Minister had given such instructions.” Alleging that such an attempt was intended at destroying records about the alleged involvement of some Hindu elements in Gandhi’s assassination, Rajeeve demanded a reply from the Prime Minister. He was supported by Congress and TMC members.

While the Chair ruled that the matter should be put to rest after the minister’s statement, the members refused to relent and demanded a reply from the Prime Minister. Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) demanded that action should be taken against the editors of newspapers who have carried the report if the allegations are proved wrong. Amid uproar, the Chair adjourned the House for an hour till 2 PM.



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Babri demolition case: Non-bailable warrants against 2 BJP MPs (Jul 14, 2014, Times of India)

A CBI special court on Monday issued non-bailable warrants against six accused in the Babri demolition case. These people had been skipping court hearing since long.

The accused include two BJP MPs, Sakshi Maharaj from Unnao and Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh from Kaiserganj, besides Amarnath Goyal, Jai Bahadur Goyal, Ramchandra Khatri and Pawan Pandey.

Pawan Pandey was earlier in Shiv Sena but contested recent the Lok Sabha election on BSP ticket against BJP’s Varun Gandhi from Sultanpur.

The case of demolition is under trial against 22 accused including two BJP MPs in Lucknow. Another case, against 13 other accused, is underway in Rae Bareli special court.



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DSP investigating Muzaffarnagar riot cases alleges Baliyan of intervention that led to his suspension (Jul 10, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Suspended Deputy Superintendent of Police and Circle officer of Budhana Circle in Muzaffarnagar district, Shailendra Lal has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court urging direction against the impugned suspension order and to direct the state government to provide adequate security and protection to him.

DySP of Budhana in Muzaffarnagar, Shailendra Lal, and circle officer of Chandpur in Bijnore, Nirmal Kumar Bisht, were suspended with on June 10, for ‘dereliction of duty’ and laxity and lack of foresight in dealing with cases of crime against women in their respective districts on the orders of Home Secretary Vishal Chauhan.

The suspended Cop has directly accused the Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Processing Sanjeev Baliyan and Muzaffarnagar MP Sanjeev Baliyan for “direct intervention and threat.” He alleges that he has been suspended due to intervention of Baliyan, and hence he feels a “sense threat to life and liberty at large.”

Baliyan is an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riot case for attending the Mahapanchayat and giving instigating speeches.



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Assam Villagers Protest the Murders of Muslim Lemon Traders (Jul 14, 2014, Wall Street Journal)

Tension mounted in India’s northeastern state of Assam as hundreds of villagers took to the streets to protest the killings of four Muslim traders whose bodies were found over the weekend, state police officials said. On Sunday, police officials fired rubber bullets and used batons to break up protestors who violated a curfew and beat up a police officer in Assam’s Baksa district, Vinod Seshan, a district magistrate in Baksa, told The Wall Street Journal on Monday.

As the army and paramilitary forces stepped up patrols in the area, the protesters retreated to their homes, officials said. “The situation is under control. A curfew is in place in some areas to ensure nothing untoward happens,” Mr. Seshan said. The army also has been “put on high alert,” he said.

The four Muslim men, identified as lemon traders, went missing Friday from a village in Baksa district where they had traveled to sell their goods, said Lajja Ram Bishnoi, a police official in Assam. The body of one man was found on the bank of the Beki river, while the three others were spotted in paddy fields, he said.

All the bodies had severe head injuries, Mr. Bishnoi said. He said no arrests have been made because it’s “not yet clear” who might have been responsible. “We have launched a massive investigation to find out the motive behind the killing and those involved in the crime,” Mr. Bishnoi said.

State police said they suspect that a faction of a separatist group, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, may have been responsible for Friday’s kidnappings. The Bodoland organization, which seeks an independent homeland for the Bodo, an ethnic group, denied responsibility.…



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Congress alleges Vaidik-Saeed meeting at govt’s behest (Jul 15, 2014, Times of India)

The Congress on Monday alleged the involvement of Prime Minister’s Office in the meeting of journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik with 26/11 attack mastermind and JuD Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan, asking the BJP government to “come clean” on the issue. Rejecting the government’s contention that it had nothing to do with the meeting, the opposition party said Vaidik was “very close to the Sangh Parivar” and was associated with saffron think tank Vivekanand International Foundation.…

“This is a very serious matter relating to national security. The PMO is directly involved in it,” said Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed. The Congress leader said Vaidik belonged to the same organisation (Vivekananda International Foundation) whose three members – Nripendra Misra, PK Mishra and Ajit Doval – are Principal Secretary to PM, Additional Principal Secretary in PMO and as National Security Advisor (NSA).

“Now the fourth person, Vaidik, who also worked in the Foundation, Vaidik, has met the most wanted terrorist in India, who is an accused in Mumbai terror strikes. A serious question arises. Did he go to meet Hafiz Saeed at the instruction of the Prime Minister?” Ahmed said.…



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Minorities Commission report on Kishanbagh communal violence agitates human rights group (Jul 14, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Report of Andhra Pradesh State Minorities Commission on Kishanbagh communal violence has not gone down well with Human rights groups who felt recommendation of the commission is “like a report of a subordinate officer submitting to its higher officials.”

Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee (CLMC) wrote a letter to its chairman Abid Rasool Khan describing Commission report as “A complete bureaucratic report lacking on Human rights concept.”

Minorities Commission chairman Mr. Abid Rasool Khan on 8th July submitted the report to Governor E.S.L. Narsimham and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao on May 14th communal violence between Sikhs and Muslims in Kishanbagh where three Muslims were killed in para military firing.

Although the report has not yet been made public, according to media reports, Minorities Commission in its report recommended establishing of new police station in the communally sensitive area of Arsh Mahal as a preventive measure hinting at a possible resurrection of similar violence.…



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Saki Naka cops under police probe (Jul 14, 2014, Times of India)

A departmental inquiry has begun into the conduct of Saki Naka police personnel following a TOI report. A victim of sexual harassment claimed that she was being tormented by the police after she lodged an FIR. A fresh statement of the 32-year-old woman has been recorded by an assistant commissioner of police. At least four cops from the Saki Naka police station have been questioned. The state commission for women is monitoring the developments.

The woman lodged the FIR at the police station on June 19 against a former classmate, Pravin Shetty, after he sent her 21 pornographic pictures on a cellphone app. He was arrested, but got bail in three days. A constable visited the woman’s residence in her absence, and spoke ill of her to her family.

She was also summoned to the police station at odd hours. Once she was told to “forget about her cellphone”, which had been taken for examination. Also, an unidentified man began to stalk her. “After the departmental enquiry began, the stalking has stopped. But if it resumes, I might ask for police protection,” the woman told TOI.



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Opinions and Editorials

Attempt to rewrite India’s history is dangerous – By Sitaram Yechury (Jul 14, 2014, Hindustan Times)

This column is being filed soon after a debate in the Rajya Sabha where a suo moto statement was made by the Union home minister, concerning the destruction of historical files. Based on media reports, the issue was first raised on July 9 and on that occasion, the Union law minister, on behalf of the government, had said the following on record: “This whole allegation against the honourable prime minister is completely wrong; I deny it completely and emphatically. That is all the position of the government”.

Subsequently, the Union home minister made a statement which inter alia said: “In accordance with the instructions mentioned above (from the prime minister), the files lying in the different sections of the ministry of home affairs were reviewed and a total of 11,100 files were destroyed during the period 05.06,2014 to 08.07.2014.” This apparent contradiction is tantamount to misleading Parliament and would, surely, merit the consideration of a privilege motion.

Now, consider the facts: On June 23, the PTI filed a report informing that, “On the direction of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Union home ministry is on a cleanliness drive and, in less than a month, has destroyed nearly 1.5 lakh files …”. It further noted, “While going through the steel almirahs of North Block, officials also found some interesting files which gave an insight into some historic moments”. Among many interesting such moments was, “Another file (which had) details about the Cabinet meeting that was called before the death of Mahatma Gandhi was announced, an official said”.…

It is necessary to recollect that, on the basis of the decisions taken at that very Cabinet meeting whose records, we are now informed, have been destroyed, Vallabhbhai Patel, then home and deputy prime minister, banned the RSS following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. A government communique dated February 4, 1948, drafted by Patel, announcing the ban on the RSS says, “The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims. The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself”. It is, indeed, an irony that the Union finance minister in his budget speech has allocated a sum of ‘200 crore for the construction of a statue of this very same Sardar Patel.

It is this historical record of the RSS and its today’s political arm, the BJP, which is sought to be destroyed by the Modi government. This is part of the overall project of rewriting Indian history in order to negate its rich diversity of intermingling of various cultures, traditions and experiences that have defined the lands of India as the churning crucible of human civilisational advance. It is part of the overall objective to straightjacket Indian history into a monolithic record of the glorification of the ‘Hindu nation’ and ‘Hindus’ alone. Such an effort will necessarily have as its immediate corollary the danger of changing our entire education system and syllabi to dovetail the advancement of the RSS project. One among its many diabolical bugles, thus, has been sounded. It is time to defend our great country and further enrich the ‘idea of India’.



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A new low in Indian politics (and journalism) – By Rana Ayyub (Jul 11, 2014, Twocircles.net)

Late last week, a special CBI court adjourned the bail application of Amit Shah in the Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati fake encounter cases, accepting his excuse that he was engaged in political work in New Delhi. Shah, 49, the first serving Home minister of a state to have gone behind bars in a criminal case of murder and conspiracy had a legitimate reason to skip court hearings. He was presiding and taking part in day-long meetings in Delhi with senior RSS leaders and BJP functionaries who were all set to seal his fate as the next BJP President.

There is a significant back story to his exemption which did find its way as a small snippet in the media but needs to be brought to light as Shah, the man who waved the magic wand for BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the PM’s confidante and the number two in the government now takes over the reins of the party. Amit Shah had twice in the past sought exemption from personal appearance citing political work, but the then CBI judge JT Utpat had found his excuse inadequate for the court to grant him relief.…

As a journalist covering Gujarat extensively since 2005, as someone who exposed Shah’s role in the fake encounters in the state and who can claim to have knowledge of his political trajectory, I would not mince my words in suggesting that by appointing Amit Shah as the president of the party, the BJP has hugely disrespected the law of the land and signalled an all time low for the criminal justice system of India. For the cases against Shah are for crimes so gruesome that the cloak of political astuteness will be too short to cover it.…



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Debating Secularism In A Communalized Society – By Ram Puniyani (Jul 9, 2014, countercurrents)

In the aftermath of the recent elections Congress, Communist parties, Samajvadi and Lalu’s RJD, which can be called secular in some sense; bit the dust. In the review of defeat the major opposition party Congress, which has been in power for maximum number of years, one major opinion from its top leader A.K. Antony came forth to say that the secularism practiced by Congress was seen more as an appeasement of minorities (read Muslims) and so the large sections turned against it emasculating it to a mere 19% votes with 44 seats in Lok Sabha. In a free for all; different opinions on secularism, and failure of Congress are coming forth.

BJP with glee and confident assertion came to claim that it has the correct opinion of secularism, “We (BJP) have always said secularism should mean justice for all, appeasement of none, discrimination against none” Ironically this assertion, which negates the very concept of a democratic and secular society, has come to be perceived by many as ‘the secularism’. Many a commentators opined that Modi could demonstrate the hypocrisy of secularism and went on to take the cake of power. Sometimes victory can be taken as the proof of correctness!

In Indian scenario, secularism has been a much debated word, more so after Independence. At the time of Independence critics went on to say that state is not curbing religious practices in official places and called it an erosion of secularism. What we see today in most public places, the pantheon of Hindu deities adorning the Government offices and vehicles, and is passé’ was criticized by many earlier. Hindu practices like Bhumi Pujan (worshipping land) before construction of Government buildings became part of ‘normal practice’.

Sarswati Puja, Surya Namaskar in some Government outfits by now is becoming a matter of routine. When Nehru was asked by Andre Malraux about such religious practices going around, Nehru did confess that we have a secular constitution but the society is in the grip of religiosity. Today a Prime Minister-elect performing a Ganga Aarti is part of the official menu and the tables are turned on those who question such practice of secularism by state and party. …

Congress has not kept up the ideological commitment to secular values. Its workers hardly think differently on the issues related to communal propaganda. Many of its leaders come from communal stock, for many others standing upright for secular values is not important at all. There is a serious need for introspection, not only for Congress but for all those wanting to uphold the values emerging from our National movement for freedom.



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Indian Intelligence Agencies Helping NSA to Spy on its own Citizens – By Prabir Purkayastha (Jul 13, 2014, Peoples Democracy)

The Indian media has missed the major implications of the latest Snowden disclosures. It is not simply that India is one of the countries, or that the BJP is one of the political organisations under NSA surveillance. The real question is how is the NSA carrying out this surveillance? The answer to that lies in another piece of the puzzle that is now public – India is one the 33 countries that have “3rd party” agreement that allows NSA access its telecom and internet network subject to this intelligence being shared. In other words, India is providing NSA access, while NSA decides what it will share with Indian government – or deem what is fit to be viewed by Indians. If we recall, India’s former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon had complained earlier that the issue is not that the NSA is spying on Indians, but that they are not sharing their data. This appears to be our only complaint!

Recently, the Washington Post published a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) Order dated July 16, 2010 listing all the countries including India and the six political organisations, (one of which was the BJP) that could be put under NSA surveillance. As India is one of the countries that have signed the third party agreement with the US, this enables the NSA to directly access the Indian telecommunications and Internet network. No wonder, all the officials and ministers of the UPA government downplayed the NSA surveillance on Indians. We were fully a party to our being spied upon! …

Contrast this with India. We hear a few protests, some noise is made and then, very quickly, it is business as usual. This is what the Congress-led UPA did and this is what the BJP-led current dispensation also seems to be doing. Will the Indian parliament start an enquiry on the NSA spying in the same way as the German parliament is doing? Will the government take steps against Verizon, AT&T and Vodafone, identified by the home ministry as partners in NSA-GCHQ (the UK equivalent of the NSA) spying? Will it cancel the third party agreement that Indian agencies have with the NSA? Without any such measures, the Indian citizens are not only being spied upon by the US and UK agencies, to add insult to injury, with the help of the Indian intelligence agencies.



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Scuttling Inconvenient Judicial Appointments – By Prashant Bhushan (Jul 12, 2014, EPW)

Every trick in the trade will be used to manage the judiciary. That is the signal that one gets from the manner in which Gopal Subramanium’s appointment was scuttled by the Narendra Modi government. Consider the facts: four names including those of Gopal Subramanium (along with another former solicitor general, Rohinton Nariman, and two high court chief justices, Adarsh Goel and Arun Mishra) had been unanimously recommended for appointment to the Supreme Court in early May by the five-member collegium headed by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha.

Subramanium had been a solicitor general in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government who had resigned because of his differences with the government in the handling of the 2G case. Subramanium had represented many important institutions in the country, including the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in many cases and had acquitted himself with great distinction. He had also been appointed as amicus curiae by the Court in many cases in which he had invested considerable amounts of time with great dedication. One of such cases was the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case,1 which also came to involve the fake encounters of his wife Kauser Bi, as well as Tulsiram Prajapati, the unfortunate witness to these encounters who was done away with.

The CBI charged Modi’s right-hand man, Amit Shah, along with a number of Gujarat police officers for that encounter. Shah stayed in jail for several months in that case. When the Supreme Court eventually granted him bail, Subramanium persuaded the Court to order that he would not be allowed to be in Gujarat. It was Subramanium’s role in this case which must have made him persona non grata with Modi and his men. …

There is little doubt that the National Democratic Alliance government will try to revive the idea or make a similar proposal soon. It is as unlikely to cede the power of judicial appointments to the judiciary alone and is not likely to support a full-time independent body for such appointments. Till that happens, however, the BJP is likely to continue using the technique of just sitting on inconvenient recommendations sent by the collegium while using its dirty tricks department and hatchet agencies like the IB to defame the nominee and force him to withdraw. There is also little doubt that the BJP, like the Congress, also wants a “committed” judiciary.



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Fighting Sexual Violence In A Country Whose Police Doesn’t Respond To Distress Calls – By Samar (Jun 27, 2014, Countercurrents)

The calls were not getting answered, not a single one of them. The friend was recounting the tale of a female friend held hostage by some people in her own house with horror. I was calling the Senior Superintendent of Police and other officers, district administration, the local police station. Every passing minute was sending shivers down my spine, he continued.

Worst was the response of the police station where full rings went with nobody answering them. What for these police stations are if they cannot respond to such emergencies? The story, in short, was eerily similar to countless other stories of bodies of women being turned into the site of ‘honour’ and battles for the same. …

They had also confiscated her phones for stopping her from seeking any help. She was asked to tell where the couple was and threatened with rape and getting paraded naked if she did not. She, in fact, did not know. Yet, she asked for her phone on the excuse that a friend might know the couple’s location and she will ask her. That is how the friend I was talking to came to know about the incident. She, in turn, tried to contact every possible person who could help starting with the local police.

As I said before, the police did not answer the calls even once leaving her flummoxed. Then she started contacting her friends in media and women’s movement who could, finally, reach the police and make them act. The hostage situation was broken next morning after hours long ordeal for the woman. Thankfully, she was rescued before getting violated despite being kept in illegal confinement. That too, it broke because the woman was well connected and her friend could reach people in positions of helping. What would happen to an ordinary woman with no such contacts is anybody’s guess. …

Introducing newer, harsher laws is not going to curb sexual violence in India. Only thing that can is radical restructuring of the criminal justice system by making it responsive and responsible. Having dedicated teams to respond to emergencies might be a beginning but until and unless impartial investigations ending in speedy convictions become the norm, nothing will change on the ground. Till then, we can make do police stations which do not respond to distress calls.



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