Co-presented by

Political blame game over Alwar gangrape brushes aside Rajasthan's abysmal record on women's safety

Alwar/Jaipur: The recent gang rape of a woman in Alwar’s Thanagazi has put the spotlight once again on unending crime against women in Rajasthan. According to data available with Rajasthan Police, there is a steep rise in rape cases in the last few years. In 2017, the state police registered 3,305 cases of rape and in just one year Rajasthan recorded an increase of 1,030 cases taking the total number of registered rape cases to 4,335 in 2018.

If this was not enough, the first four months of this year have already taken this graph even further with the state recording 1,509 rape cases till April 2019. This shows an increase of 197 cases when compared to the number of rape cases registered in the first four months of 2018.

 Political blame game over Alwar gangrape brushes aside Rajasthans abysmal record on womens safety

Representational image. PTI

In 2015, the number of rape cases registered in Rajasthan was 3,644 whereas the state police registered 3,656 rape cases in 2016.

A detailed report on Rajasthan Police’s 2016 crime data states that Alwar district recorded the highest number of rape cases in the state that year.

The data, which comprises the latest figures released by the police, shows that 239 of the total 3,656 rape cases in 2016 were from Alwar, followed by Bharatpur with 186 cases. The district also topped in the number of molestation with 231 cases. Besides these, the area registered 633 cases of cruelty against women by their husbands and relatives.

These worrying statistics came to light after the gang rape of a Dalit woman in Thanagazi went viral, bringing outrage from all corners.

The incident happened on 26 April when the woman was riding pillion on a two-wheeler with her husband. The bike-borne accused waylaid them and took them to a field. They then allegedly beat up the husband and gang-raped the woman in front of him. One of the accused filmed the whole act on his mobile phone, later threatening the couple with the video when they went to the police. The accused allegedly demanded money from the two in exchange for not putting the clip on social media.

The husband has alleged that though the police were informed about the crime on 30 April, they filed an FIR only on 7 May, dilly-dallying because of the ongoing election.

Jaipur Inspector General of Police S Sengathir, who is handling the case, said interrogation of the six accused is being done on a priority basis.

Poll play

The issue has now gotten political with both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot taking potshots at each other over it on public platforms.

Modi, during a public address on Sunday, said BSP leader Mayawati should withdraw from the coalition with Congress as a Dalit woman was raped in Rajasthan.

In response, on Monday, Gehlot said Modi was targeting only him and Rajasthan in all his speeches. “He does not have any information regarding the Thanaghazi incident. He is blaming the state government to win the election, to particularly benefit in the end phase. His party member, [Hemsingh] Bhadana, tried to negotiate with the victim and her family, while the government took immediate action by suspending the SHO and removing the SP,” Gehlot said.

He added that several crimes against women took place during BJP’s tenure in Rajasthan, and no action was taken in those cases.

However, when asked about the attention being given to the other rape cases in Alwar’s recent past, he said some go viral, some don’t. “Investigation is underway in the other cases as well. Some incidents go viral and, therefore, get more attention, as compared to others.”

On 7 May, a woman was allegedly gang-raped in a government hospital in Alwar’s Kathumar area by the hospital compounder and ambulance driver.

“The compounder was arrested the same day the complaint was lodged. The driver was taken into custody today [May 13] and is being questioned,” said Rajesh Kumar Verma, SHO, Kathumar police station.

Unending protests

The BJP, which is in the Opposition in the state, has been holding protests and dharnas, and sending memorandums to the government. Several senior BJP leaders, including state BJP president Madan Lal Saini, former health minister Kalicharan Saraf, BJP MLA Suman Sharma, and former mayor Ashok Lahoti, took to the streets in Jaipur on Sunday.

They presented a memorandum to Governor Kalyan Singh, listing the many cases of molestation and rape of women belonging to the SC/ST community in Rajasthan. They also requested him to investigate the government’s shortcomings towards ensuring the protection of women and submit the same to the President.

“Under the current government, law and administration in the state have gone for a toss. Criminals are roaming around without fear. The Congress government, in connivance with the administration, has made a vicious attempt to suppress the Thanagazi incident for the party’s electoral gains,” said Saini.

On Sunday, even BJP MP Kirori Lal Meena protested in Alwar with a huge crowd on his side. He demanded the chief minister’s resignation and said he will hold a dharna outside Gehlot’s residence on 14 May.

Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani visited the family on Sunday.

Damage control

In his defence, Gehlot said he plans to improve the relationship between the police and the public and is working on digitally empowering the former.

“It is alleged that due to police personnel’s inappropriate behaviour, people don’t come forward to lodge their complaints. So we will ensure proper behaviour from the officers. Also, a meeting will be held every four months at the home ministerial level to review the activities of police personnel at various levels,” he added.

Public opinion

Several women across Jaipur city have spoken out on the countless cases of rape and molestation across the state.

“Till we don't raise our voice and question the government, women will never be safe in this nation. Instead of this political bickering and slandering, leaders should have helped the victim and punished the culprit,” said Winfred Crawford, a Jaipur-based trainer who works on empowering women.

Many young women, on the other hand, believe that things in Rajasthan will not change, courtesy of its patriarchal society.

“Times have changed, but accepting women as equal partners will still need a lot of effort from men. Until that happens, Rajasthan will not be a safe state for any woman,” said Neha Somani, a Jaipur resident.

The author is a Jaipur-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com.)

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: May 14, 2019 11:01:23 IST