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Crimes Going Unpunished

One of the most alarming truths about life in India is that the country has become a very unsafe place for women and children. The real reason for the very rapid degeneration in the crime scenario is that the average policeman probably does not regard even the rape of very small girls as a serious enough offence. This is the impression gaining ground, because so many of these heinous crimes go unpunished. Perhaps the attitude of most police officers who are unable to secure convictions in court and ensure exemplary punishment stems from the perverse attitudes of some political leaders. On Monday, Kavinder Gupta, the new Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir, told journalists soon after he was sworn in that the gang-rape and subsequent murder of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua village in Jammu & Kashmir was a “chhoti si baat” (a small matter). After a backlash, Gupta resorted to the usual statement of politicians—that his statement had been twisted. What is even more shocking is that another BJP minister of Jammu & Kashmir, Rajiv Jasrotia, and two erstwhile ministers—Chowdhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga—had also attended a rally in Kathua in March in support of the suspects arrested by the State police. What is most remarkable is that the rally was projected as an attempt to seek justice for the child but was generally seen as an attempt to shield the accused. The two ministers had resigned after a public uproar, following which the PDP (BJP’s alliance partner in Jammu & Kashmir) credited the Prime Minister with having forced them out. But the attitude to crime in high places is beginning to be very clear, what with the long delays in conviction and punishment and the large number of criminals who manage to escape punishment.

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Ankur Kalita