Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan (PMS) Call




Insensitive, repressive, high handed and callous behavior of Police is once again the issue before Delhi. This time it concerns the brutal rape of a five year old child of a worker’s family. She disappeared while playing outside her home. Her relatives went to the police, who did not register a complaint saying she would be eventually found. They could not locate her even though she lay brutalized and starving, locked in a room below her own- the police did not even check the same building! Then the police offered two thousand rupees to the parents to hush up the case. And in a final irony, the ACP of the area slapped a lady protester- this act was caught on video.

Delhi has again erupted in protests against the police. One demand is for the removal of the Police Commissioner. The ACP has been suspended just as some DCP & ACPs of Traffic were after the 16th December incident. What has it changed? The Commissioner may go too, but not the police behavior which has been similar even under earlier commissioners!

The Delhi Govt’s alibi is that the Police is not under it; quite overlooking that nobody forgets that the same Congress party is leading the Central Govt. Leader of opposition, Sushma Swaraj again wants hanging to be the punishment for rape. The reality is that surety rather than severity of punishment acts as a deterrence. We are in a situation where the conviction rate for rape in Delhi has halved over 20 years and is a mere 22%.

The role of police in Delhi is well illustrated in a case which came to light due to parallel events. A 13 year old girl was gangraped by eight men in Delhi. When the parents went to register her complaint the policemen explained to them that the girl’s reputation would be spoilt so only a case of abduction should be lodged. The father went to court and got a case of sexual assault registered. By then medical evidence had been lost. The same girl saw the current case on television, tried to find out the progress in her own case, and in its absence attempted suicide.

In the aftermath of 16th Dec., the issue of how the police deal with crimes against women and the dismal rate of punishments, was somewhat clouded over by other issues of governance, whether laws needed more teeth, (this was mainly the cry of women parliamentarians and basically obfuscated the issue) of reaction to the patriarchal-feudal attitudes of the ruling class politicians etc. This time the issue stands out starkly.

It is not only the experience in Delhi. Almost at the same time, protesting women in Aligarh were brutally lathi charged because they protested against the police role in the rape and murder of a young girl there. Earlier, in Punjab, policemen beat up a girl who came with her father to register a complaint. It is an every day experience that people hesitate to offer help to accident victims, because they fear that police will implicate them and also harass them. All laws, including new laws regarding sexual assault, are misused by the police at will to serve the interest of the powerful, capitalists and landlords etc.

The police system is a colonial one, designed by the British to suppress the enslaved people of India. The ‘khaki’ dress continues to invoke fear and hatred in common people. The police system has continued without any major change. The police continues to be hostile to the people and servile to the powerful, careless about the law. Struggles restricted to changing one policeman here, punishing another there, are unlikely to make any lasting correction. This colonial police system must be disbanded. 

Alongside a powerful struggle of women, youth, students and other sections must continue this struggle against patriarchal values which permeates the outlook of all institutions of society and especially all institutions of governance. The ruling elite who show utter disregard for the concerns of the people, who conspire to tire out the people and who unleash brutal police against the protesters must be targeted in these protests.


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