Adding to the streak of sexual violence against women in Uttar Pradesh, 14 youths molested two women in the state’s Rampur district and posted videos on social media.
Four prime accused have been arrested and the police are searching for the rest, reported The Asian Age. The police filed an FIR after the video surfaced online and was widely shared on social media.
Around 12-14 young men, suspected to be in their late teens or early 20s, filmed the whole incident on their cell phones in broad daylight in a village under Tanda police station in Rampur district and circulated it across social media platforms in the last 15 days.
The identity of the two women is yet to be ascertained as no one from their families approached the police. The FIR was filed by the police on their own under IPC’s sections 354A (sexual harassment), 354B (assault or use of force to woman with intent to disrobe) and relevant sections of the Information Technology Act, the police report said.
In the video, the group of boys can be seen ambushing the two women and groping and abusing them, while laughing and recording the video. The women can be heard wailing and pleading to let them go as the youths pull and push them.
Incidentally, after coming to power, the Yogi Adityanath government had launched ‘anti-Romeo’ squads to curb harassment of women. As the initiative drew much flak of moral policing and police excesses cases from across the state, the government then renamed the squads to ‘Nari Suraksha Bal’ (women’s protection force) and issued them guidelines.
Will Uttar Pradesh ever be safe?
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in its election manifesto before the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections had stressed on the need to curb the “rising violence” against women in the state. The party had also targeted the former ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) over the issue.
However, the state has been tottering in face of soaring crimes – from molestations, rapes, murders, caste conflicts, and riots.
On the night of May 24 and 25, four women, including a 50-year-old, of a family were allegedly raped by six thugs on the Jewar-Bulandshahr highway and a man was shot dead.
The family had left Jewar in Greater Noida for Bulandshahr around 12.30 am on Wednesday when they were attacked and robbed on the way. Senior police officials, including SSP Love Kumar and administration officials, reached the incident and the hunt to nab the criminals in ongoing.
The four women have claimed that a group of five criminals raped them at gunpoint and killed a male member of their family when he objected the sexual assault. However, a Hindustan Times report said on Friday that a preliminary medical examination has ruled out rape as no vaginal injury or presence of semen was shown. The women have alleged that the police are trying to hush up the case by making false statements against them instead of arresting the culprits.
This is the second incident of gangrape in Bulandshahr. In July last year, a 35-year-old woman and her 14-year-old daughter were raped at gunpoint for three hours by 12 men. The criminals ambushed the family’s car, dragged them out, isolated four members and gang raped the two women. The family was also robbed of Rs 11,000 and some jewelry. This incident sparked a huge outrage last year with politicians visiting the victims, but this year there is no outrage and actions of police seem to put the incident under the rug.
But Bulandshahr has also been in news for crimes other than those related to sexual violence. A Muslim man, Ghulam Mohammad, was allegedly beaten to death at Sohi village in the area on Tuesday. His son has alleged that members of Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV) were involved in the death of his father, but the police is yet to determine the motive of the murder.
Earlier this month, two daughters of an ex-Subedar were murdered brutally in their house in Lucknow. In another incident, 36-year-old IAS officer Anurag Tiwari was found dead under mysterious circumstances in the middle of the road in the state capital.
Furthermore, the tensions between Dalits and Thakurs in Saharanpur, simmering for over a month, is adding to the chaos in Uttar Pradesh. The communal riots have caused the death of two and wounded several others. Many, from both sides, have also been arrested.
The Logical Indian take
The National Crime Records Bureau, in its 2015 report, placed UP as the state with the highest number of SLL (Special and Local Laws) crimes, accounting for 58.2% of the total. The state also reported the highest number of cases of violent crimes, murder, and crimes against Scheduled Castes.
Uttar Pradesh also remained among the states with the highest number of crimes against women and children. Furthermore, data released by the state police also suggests that between March 15 and April 15 this year, rapes have increased four times over 2016, murders have doubled and dacoities have increased manifold.
In response to the Jewar-Bulandshahr murder and rape, senior minister Suresh Khanna of the Yogi Adityanath government said that Uttar Pradesh is too big a state to ensure zero crime.
Such comments by those in power give leeway to criminals to act with impunity.
In the case where two women were molested by 14 young men as they took their video, the fearlessness of the criminals is clearly visible. They find it amusing to pull, push and grope the women. The youths’ unafraid demeanor points to the comfort provided to them by our slow justice system, lack of implementation of laws and reforms, and the widespread culture of viewing women as objects.
Such incidents are common in India, especially in rural areas where education and awareness are lacking. Many of the cases go unreported too. The need of the hour is a focused approach to gender sensitization from the grassroots level – in primary education.
Harsh punishment for the crime will only be effective if the above regulations are implemented.
The video also shows young kids watching the molestation in amusement. Can we blame a 10-12-year-old kid when as a society we have failed to educate him?
Unless the mindset of a certain misled population of our country changes, reforms will not be possible. People are asking to severely punish those involved but the outrage of ours is only short term and won’t work unless we start sensitizing kids on gender issues from a young age.