The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Dikshit rape law plea

New Delhi, Oct. 17: Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit today urged deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani to enforce the existing rape law to ensure convictions.

The conviction rate in rape cases at present is abysmally low.

The home minister, who had in Parliament argued in favour of death penalty for rapists, told Dikshit that his views are well known. The incidence of rape is not uniform all over the country, Advani told the chief minister. Western and northeastern India do not share the north’s spiralling graph on this crime, he pointed out.

Forthcoming Assembly polls in Delhi have given a political twist to the rape of a diplomat with the BJP and the Congress trying to do each other in on the issue. Law and order in Delhi is under the jurisdiction of the BJP-led central government, though the capital is governed by a Congress regime. “It is a political game for them,” says Kalindi Deshpande of the All India Democratic Women’s Association.

Delegations from 12 women’s organisations met Delhi’s deputy police commissioner while others staged a demonstration on the streets to express their outrage at the incident. At the demonstration, AIDWA president Suhashini Ali accused Advani of indulging in “irresponsible sloganeering” instead of enforcing the present law.

The deputy commissioner, who was clearly on the “defensive” according to the members of the delegation, said the police are doing everything possible to ensure safety for women in Delhi. Senior police officials would hold regular meetings with women’s organisations, said the police official. The police have already issued instructions to prevent vulgar songs from being played on buses.

The delegation underlined that law and order in Delhi is the responsibility of the Centre — in the domain of Advani. The home minister, the members pointed out, wants rapists to be put to death but is unable to ensure that the guilty be convicted under the existing law.

Women’s organisations have, however, opposed the death penalty, saying it lower the already low conviction rate. The organisations submitted a memorandum to the deputy Prime Minister demanding a thorough investigation into all rape cases and not just the recent ones. They have demanded stringent punishment for the rapists, proper lighting on the streets and at public places and a ban on vulgar music being played on buses.

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