Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Protests in Delhi

Delhi has seen unprecedented protests against a gang rape that took place on 16/12/2012. The protests began on 18/12/2012 and continued each day. Water cannons were used against protesters near chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s house. There were protests in front of police commissioner’s office. On 22/12/2012 protests were held at India Gate. Some marched to Raisina Hill. They pushed barricades and shook the gate of Rashtrapati Bhavan. Later there was stone pelting by some miscreants who could have been government agents sent to give a bad name to protesters. Police retaliated. They used water cannons, lathi charge, and tear gas. Sushilkumar Shinde met some students and held a press conference at night. He was flanked by Manish Tewari and R. P. N. Singh. Sonia Gandhi came out of her residence and met students. She called some of them the next day.
On Sunday 23/12/2012 eight metro stations were shut to prevent people from reaching India Gate. That was not successful. People reached India Gate. Sonia Gandhi met the students she had called. The students issued their statement. Sonia Gandhi had not given any timeline to meet their demands. Protests continued. There were incidents of violence. Policepersons and protesters got injured. Media persons also got beaten up. Some equipment was damaged. To a question on CNN-IBN by Rajdeep Sardesai on stone pelters being sent by government Ved Marwah replied that was partly true.
Sachin Tendulkar announced his retirement from ODIs. When he was nominated to Rajya Sabha on 26/4/2012 UPA government was facing many problems. His nomination dominated the news and other issues were forgotten. This time most channels did not dwell on his retirement. Two days back there was a report that he had presented a master plan to Sandeep Patil, chairman of selectors, about playing ODIs against Pakistan and England to prepare for Tests against Australia. There are two possibilities. One, selectors did not want him in the team. So he decided to retire to avoid sack. Second, he obliged the government in its desire to divert attention but it was of no use.
Sheila Dikshit said police department in Delhi comes under lieutenant governor and she cannot even post a constable. Who posted the policepersons outside her house who used water cannons on protesters?
The protesters want justice. They want rapists hanged. The government can change the law with retrospective effect. They have done it for constitutional amendments. They did it for Vodafone case.
For those who say a civilized country should not have death penalty or castration as punishment for rape the answer is there is nothing civilized about rape or being on the side of rapist. There is demand to punish acid throwing with death penalty. Some say they don’t want death penalty for rape because rapist will murder victim. Even without death penalty for rape many rapists have murdered victims and those who were convicted and sentenced to death by Supreme Court were far less and most of them have got presidential pardons. If every rapist who committed murder had been hanged there would have been fear of law.
Lies are spread that if there is death penalty for rape conviction rate will come down from 26% to 2%. The figures are just bandied about without any evidence. Conviction is based on evidence. If evidence is sound there is conviction unless there is corruption.
If protests stop there will be no progress. Last year there was movement for Lokpal Bill. The government had extended the winter session and brought a bill that was not acceptable to IAC. Anna Hazare called off his fast on 28/12/2012. The government scuttled even the diluted bill in Rajya Sabha on 29/12/2012. After that there has been no progress. Once pressure is off the government will take it easy and there will be no progress on punishing rapists. Appointing a commission is useless. Commissions take years to complete their work and afterwards their reports are not binding.
There is only one reason why a woman gets raped; a potential rapist is around. Everything else touted as reason is excuse. Talk of societal norms breaking down or commodification or objectification of women is rubbish. Rahul Bose and Shabana Azmi sound like Taliban in disguise when they blame Bollywood item songs for rape and want a ban on them. They may be jealous of item girls.
Women judges trying rape cases is not a solution. There was Judge Laxmi Rao who tried some rape cases. She sentenced a woman for rape and let off rapists lightly and in one case the sentence for rape was till the rising of the court i.e., 5 p.m. There was outrage against her verdicts and she was transferred.

Updated: December 25, 2012 — 12:00 am

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