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India: Violence against women - ‘Conspiracy’ as an easy way out

Wednesday 18 March 2015, by siawi3


March 18, 2015
Updated: March 18, 2015 01:12 IST

There is something seriously problematic about the state of affairs in the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-run West Bengal. Three days following the gang rape of an elderly nun belonging to the Convent of Jesus and Mary school in Ranaghat in Nadia district, by dacoits, arrests of the culprits are yet to be made. Rather than acknowledging the seriousness of the problem of crimes against women in the State, the State government has yet again sought to politicise the issue, initially insinuating “religious fanaticism†to be responsible for the crime. Later, the Chief Minister blamed the Opposition — the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Bharatiya Janata Party — for what turned out to be spontaneous protests against the incident in Ranaghat.
This is not to suggest that the robbery and rape incident in Ranaghat could not have been a “hate crime†, a number of which have been reported in other parts of the country recently. But for the government to jump the gun even before apprehending any of the culprits just to score political brownie points is unacceptable.

West Bengal, according to latest statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau, ranked third in absolute numbers of crimes against women and among the high-ranking States in incidences of rape in 2013. However the State cannot be singled out. The issue of rape and other crimes against women is a national one and protests against the Delhi rape incident in 2012 have steadily turned the gaze on law enforcement agencies to effect better responses to these crimes. What sets the TMC government — and Ms Banerjee in particular — apart is its refusal to subject these issues to serious scrutiny and escape into conspiracy theories. Ms Banerjee’s response to the incident in 2012 in Park Street, Kolkata involving the gang rape of Suzette Jordan — who succumbed to encephalitis recently — was to term it a “made up incident†against her government. Her party colleagues dismissed the rape allegation and also cast aspersions on Ms Jordan’s character. The police official in charge of the investigation of the incident was transferred after affirming that it was indeed gang rape. Meanwhile the main accused in the rape case is yet to be apprehended by the Kolkata police nearly three years since the incident. While crimes against women are indeed a societal issue, there is much that the State could do apart from prevention. The State police should not be encumbered by political pressures as it sets out to bring culprits to book. The Chief Minister’s continued reliance on conspiracy theories lends to unnecessary politicisation which leads to a dangerous drift even as it renders law enforcement agencies ineffective.