(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 24, 2013
MEMO TO LT GOVERNOR
February 14, 2013, a
group of university teachers, parents and students, along
with some leaders of the
All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), met Shri Tejinder Khanna,
(lieutenant governor of
The aim of the meeting was to highlight the filing of false cases, sexual abuse and the use of excessive force in the lathicharge and water cannoning by Delhi Police (in tacit association with some supporters of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi) on students and teachers who were protesting peacefully outside Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) on February 6, 2013 against the invitation to and the address by Narendra Modi. The group demanded immediate withdrawal of the FIR filed against the protestors; strong and deterrent action against the responsible officers including those in command and a transparent public inquiry by officers who may inspire public confidence.
The lieutenant governor gave a very patient hearing to the group and said he did not doubt the veracity of their account of the incident. On the issue of dropping of the charges and the withdrawal of the FIR, he assured the group that it would be looked into immediately and sympathetically. He also said that sexual harassment by the police or any other group at the demonstration was unacceptable and that, given his government’s zero tolerance policy for crimes against women, no errant police personnel would be spared.
The group included Sehba
Farooqui (All India Democratic
Women’s Association), Prof Jayati Ghosh (JNU), Prof Abha Dev
The memorandum given to the lieutenant governor on this occasion referred to the vindictive manner in which the police acted against the protesting students and teachers. Moreover, instead of acting against the errant police personnel and others who were involved in harassing and beating up the protesting students, the police filed rioting and other criminal cases on February 7, 2013, against the protestors and victims of sexual harassment who went to file an FIR against harassment by the police and others. The memorandum said the police FIR is clearly meant to intimidate the students and frighten them into silence so that they do not file any further complaints against the criminal conduct of the police and Modi’s supporters. With the threat of criminal charges over their heads, if they so much as admit to being present at the protest to exercise their democratic rights, even if they are not guilty of any wrongdoing, it is clear that students will feel scared to complain against the ghastly sexual harassment.
outrage over the
sexually abusive and violent behaviour by the men in
uniform, the memorandum
said this kind of behaviour has no place in discharge of the
‘law and order’
duties of the police.
This behaviour is
unacceptable, especially coming from those entrusted with
the task of
protecting the citizenry, and is compounded manifold by
the police actually
aiding lumpen elements in sexual harassment of young
women. Coming in
the wake of the recent horrific gang rape in
The memorandum demanded the following as immediate steps:
1) Immediate withdrawal of the vindictive and intimidatory police FIR which would deter a student from coming forward to complain against sexual harassment; and
2) Suspension of errant officers --- the concerned SHOs, the ACP and the DCP --- pending a transparent, and public, inquiry by officers who may inspire public confidence.
that only prompt
and strict action would end this impunity, the memorandum
asked the state and
central governments to demonstrate their intent and
sincerity to make
The memorandum was submitted to the lieutenant governor along with a copy of the open letter to the authorities on the same issue. It was signed by more than a hundred leading women of the country including Professor Malini Bhattacharya, former chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW), and Brinda Karat, a member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau.
The open letter,
among other things, recalled the sequence of events that
took place On February
6. On that day, there was a large protest outside the SRCC,
In all this episode,
the police seemed to be in connivance with the students
supporting Modi, and were
together amusing themselves in their harassment of the
female protestors. Some
students (apparently from the pro-BJP ABVP)
seemed to have the approval and indulgence of the police.
They were allowed to
be on the other side of the barricade. A few even climbed on
to the police
water cannons and danced on them when these were
aimed at the protestors. Some openly
students with Gujarat like
consequences: "Jo Gujarat mein huya vaise tujh me ghusa
thrust into you, as was done in
The open letter was accompanied by the accounts of a few eyewitness.
outrage over the
sexually abusive and violent behaviour by policemen, the
open letter said that,
coming in the wake of the recent horrific gang rape in
Moreover, when some of the signatories, after they learnt these details, called up Ms Sindhu Pillai, DCP North, and spoke to her on the phone in the evening, she was in complete denial, extremely hostile and blamed the students themselves. The concerns expressed were simply dismissed, and the officer came out in justification of the police actions. Nay, in the light of some subsequent events, one may say that possibly the real intent behind her advice to file a complaint was to identify more protestors, so that the police could file criminal cases against them. The letter asked: Whom should victims of sexual violence by the police turn to when even senior women officers of DCP rank harbour notions that girls should be “controlled” and should not be out protesting on the streets? What is it if not a reflection of the mindset that girls invite trouble upon themselves by being out?
The open letter said it is an extremely grave and worrisome reflection on the police force that nothing seems to have changed on the ground, even after tens of thousands protested on the streets of Delhi barely a month ago. It asked: How many more crimes will it take, how many more women will have to suffer harassment and violence, and die gruesome deaths, before the police reforms itself, and imbibes gender sensitivity, discipline and a sense of duty and responsibility towards the common citizens of this country? How can we ensure that the police force just does its job?
The letter stressed that lack of accountability of the police is one of the significant reasons for the rampant sexual violence in the city and country.
Copies of the open letter were also sent to Sushil Kumar Shinde (the home minister of India who is directly responsible for Delhi Police), Tejinder Khanna (lieutenant governor of Delhi), Neeraj Kumar (police commissioner of Delhi), Smt Sheila Dikshit (chief minister of Delhi), Justice K G Balakrishnan (chairperson, National Human Rights Commission), Smt Mamta Sharma (chairperson, National Commission for Women), Ms Sindhu Pillai (DCP, North) and Smt Barkha Shukla Singh (chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women)