| Maulana Azad Medical College students at a protest march. (AFP)
New Delhi, Dec. 1: More than 2,500 people have been rounded up by Delhi police as part of an anti-eve teasing campaign launched to check the sharp rise in crimes against women.
Eve-teasers would earlier be let off with just a rap on the knuckles. However, things have changed now. The eve-teasers’ families are called to the police station and are told about the misdemeanours of their sons, brothers, husbands or fathers.
Delhi police were shaken out of a slumber following public outrage over the daylight rape of a Maulana Azad Medical College student a fortnight ago. They then launched a special drive to arrest eve-teasers hanging around the north and south campuses of Delhi University, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Jamia Milia Islamia, and other educational institutions. They were held under various sections of the Delhi Police Act and the Criminal Procedure Code.
In the northern police range alone, which comprises three districts, 2,200 men have been caught. Some of them were allowed to go after brief detention while others were kept in custody.
Two other ranges in New Delhi and south Delhi governing six districts have picked up over 300 people, while the east district police arrested more than 10 people for eve-teasing on Thursday.
Even those found loitering around women’s colleges without any specific purpose have been rounded up, joint commissioner of police (northern range) Ranjeet Narain said.
A comprehensive plan has been chalked out by the police in consultation with college authorities. Plain-clothed personnel have been deployed at strategic places. A woman constable has been posted with each police control room van patrolling an institution. Narain feels informing eve-teasers’ families about the misdeeds will act as a deterrent.
According to a study by deputy commissioner of police (north) Sanjay Baniwal, the eve-teasers are not uneducated as is the common perception, but young and middle-aged men from financially well-off families are often found indulging in the act.
This year has witnessed a sharp increase in offences against women like rape, kidnapping, molestation and dowry deaths in the capital. According to the available government figures till June, 921 cases of crimes against women were reported.
Last year’s figure was 320, which was less than that in 2000 when the number went up to 435. Police officials believe a large number of rape and molestation cases go unreported as the victim’s family avoids going public because of the social stigma attached with them.
Other states, too, are not untouched by this problem. A study reveals that crimes against women are more prevalent in North India where the society is still very feudal in comparison to the Northeast where gender barriers hardly exist.
As far as individual states are concerned, Madhya Pradesh tops the crime list with 2,906 instances of molestation and 1,102 rape cases. On the other hand, in northeastern states like Nagaland, only 7 cases of rape have been registered and there are no instances of molestation or dowry deaths, according to the Centre’s crime statistics.
The Centre has appointed the V.C. Malimath Committee to review the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code and throw new light on laws to prevent crimes against women.
The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 1994, pending in the Rajya Sabha, has proposed certain changes. Section 176 has been proposed to be amended, introducing provisions of a mandatory judicial inquiry in cases of rape of women while in police custody. Also, a new sub-section has been proposed to be added to Section 46 to prohibit the arrest of a woman after sunset and before sunrise except in unavoidable circumstances.