One year was all it took to take the sheen off Nitish Kumar’s much-vaunted claim of susashan (good governance).
Whether crimes have increased or not in the past year may still be a matter of debate, but people’s perception about law and order, the USP of Nitish’s rule, is fast changing. The rise in incidents of gang rape, particularly of minors, has created a fear psychosis.
Humanity stood shamed in East Champaran, the land where Mahatma Gandhi had launched his satyagrah against the British, after a 14-year-old mentally challenged girl was raped at the Motihari government hospital even as the nation ushered in the New Year.
The tormenter was a hospital employee. He is yet to be punished as the trial is still on.
Two sisters, aged between 15 and 22 years, one of them visually challenged, from a remote village in Maner, about 30km west of Patna, were subjected to sexual harassment by four teenaged boys. The offenders also poured acid on the girls’ faces. The accused took advantage of being juveniles to escape harsher punishment. The sisters, however, are yet to overcome the trauma. They have stopped attending school as the chemical has disfigured their faces.
On the other hand, inspector-general (weaker section) Arvind Pandey said: “For the first time, workshops are being organised in academic institutions, including girl schools and women colleges, to create awareness.”
Pandey said the station house officers (SHOs) of the women’s police stations have been appointed as nodal officers of their respective districts to monitor the programmes being organised in all-women schools and colleges. In addition, special emphasis has been laid on speedy trial of such cases. “Our efforts have started yielding results,” he added.
Arvind said the country’s first judgment in a case lodged under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, came from Jamui district where the offender was awarded death sentence on October 19, 2013. The entire proceedings were completed within three months of the incident. Speedy trial was conducted in other rape cases lodged with Mohiuddin Nagar police station in Samastipur, Barari in Katihar, Singheshwar in Madhepura, Sourbazar in Saharsa and Bodhgaya in Gaya districts, the officer added.
The women’s cell has made provisions to cancel permits of public vehicles if drivers fail to take the car to the nearest police station to facilitate the victims to lodge their complaints. Closed-circuit television (CCTVs) cameras are being installed at places considered to be vulnerable for such offences. Women desks have been set up in police stations with the help of the Women Development Commission, Bihar.
According to complaints received at the women’s commission, there has been an around 10 per cent rise in incidents of crime against women in Bihar in the past year.
Janata Dal (United) national general secretary and food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak, however, claimed that Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka were far ahead of Bihar as far as incidents of crime against women were concerned. Rajak quoted the report of the National Crime Record Bureau released last year to substantiate his claim. “These states have witnessed more number of incidents than Bihar despite the fact that the police-public ratio in those states was higher,” he said.
The government has also made women police stations operational in each district and a special women’s battalion of the Bihar Military Police has been created.
Former member of the state child rights commission, Nishindra Kinjalk, said more complaints were being lodged now than before. Earlier, the fear of social stigma often stopped parents from lodging complaints against offenders. As a result, less number of incidents were being reported to the police. Kinjalk said: “Our society is a male-dominated one. Parents don’t want to lodge complaints against offenders, who, in most of the cases, are known to the victims.”
She, however, added: “Things are gradually changing. It’s a good sign that complaints are being lodged against offenders.”
Residents say the government has to check the crime graph now, else it could spiral.
Satyendra Singh, a resident of Sandalpur in Patna said: “Law and order situation in the state is not as bad as it was during the Lalu-Rabri regime. But it is true that crimes have soared in the past few years, especially in the past one year.”
Abhimanyu Kumar, a resident of Mohiuddin Nagar in Samastipur, said there has been a growth in criminal activities in recent times. “It appears that things are slowly slipping out of hand. It is high time the government takes measures to make people feel safe,” he added.At a time when the state is witnessing an average of three rape cases per day, the Motihari girl’s father is waiting for justice. It has been a delay of 11 months. Will it be denied, is the question.