The Telegraph
Tuesday , January 1 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Justice to women challenge

Patna, Dec. 31: Chief minister Nitish Kumar’s resolve to implement the “development with justice” agenda extensively in 2013 would require a lot of hard work, courtesy the legacies of 2012.

The biggest challenge would be to win back the confidence of women — his staunch supporters in the last Assembly elections. Be it protest against rape or illicit liquor trade, they have hit streets time and again in 2012.

Improved law and order situation helped Nitish win the confidence of the women folk in his first regime. By giving bicycles to schoolgirls and introducing 50 per cent reservation for women in civic and rural bodies, he bolstered their faith in him.

All these paid rich dividends. Women turned in large numbers in poll booths during the Assembly elections in 2010. Two years on, things are not as hunky dory. Various women organisations took to streets in 2012 to voice their ire over atrocities against women.

From 795 in 2010, the number of rapes in the state went up to 934 in 2011. The indifference of Nitish’s police in some crimes against women stoked the resentment.

A retired IPS officer said: “The response of the police after a rape victim of Sitamarhi approached the superintendent of police for action against her tormentors was cold. She ultimately committed suicide. Though the accused persons surrendered later, justice eluded the dead girl. A girl of Muzaffarpur is missing for two months.”

The officer said: “Just mourning the death of the Delhi gang rape victim would not do. Nitish should sensitise the police on atrocities against women.” Former chief secretary of Bihar V.S. Dubey said: “Unless there is improvement in law and order, all other developments are useless. Every girl walking on the street must feel safe.

“The main problem is that the police do not lodge FIRs. There can be a simple amendment in law to entitle a judicial or executive magistrate to accept a complaint and forward it to the police station,” Dubey said. Nitish has to ensure his police force turned more sympathetic towards crime against women in 2013.

Women of Ara, Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur and Buxar virtually launched a crusade against illegal hooch traders. They were compelled to take to the streets allegedly after the police refused to take action against illicit liquor barons. The indifference of the police triggered back-to-back hooch deaths in Muzaffarpur, Gaya and Ara.

The chief minister would have to play a balancing act on the discontent of contractual teachers, who vociferously staged protest against him in 2012. After initial anger, he agreed to hike their salaries. But the quality of some teachers is pathetic. There is very little sympathy for them among the masses.

A section of educationists feel that he should link hike of salary with the quality of teaching and weed out unworthy teachers. The NDA-II government appears to have given up on the universities of Bihar. Nitish has to re-concentrate on reforms in universities.

He would have to work overtime to overhaul the health service, one of the flaunted areas of the NDA-I government. The stampede in the state capital during Chhath exposed the rot that has set in.

Creating new job avenues would also be a big challenge for Nitish.

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