Sunday, May 12, 2013

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar deserves a patient hearing….

He was much maligned when the Dec 16th gangrape happened even though his force cracked the case within a few days. He was almost accused of abetting rapes and molestation of women in Delhi. His voice was muted; his point of view not considered. In the politicized environment that prevails in Delhi – remember the state elections are later this year and the general elections in May next year – truth doesn’t matter. Government bashing is in. Media is biased. No one in media remembers that their job is to bring out the truth, and nothing but the truth.

In this context, the Indian Express’s interview of Neeraj Kumar showed that good journalism still exists. I think it’s my duty to amplify that interview. So here goes:

On the reality of rapes: “97% rapes take place within the confines of the home. They are opportunistic crimes.” Instead of blaming ourselves, we blame the cops. Crap.

On the manhandling of the protests: “That incident was an aberration; a one off. When did you last hear of a policeman hitting a woman? I don’t want to justify that officer’s conduct. Whatever the provocation, it was unpardonable and unjustifiable to hit a woman. But, if you see the video footage of what happened prior to what happened, you will notice that this girl had spat on the ACP, called him names – very filthy names – and a stage came when he lost his balance and slapped her. It should not have happened. But he was under grave provocation”. Did anyone tell you this? That women were spitting on the cops and calling them names? Did media not know this? Or were they just too much into sensationalism to bother about putting this story out????

On the politics of Delhi: “One challenging circumstance is that we are under tremendous scrutiny, most of all, media scrutiny. Recently there was a rape in Belgaum, a gang rape. The culprits have still not been caught. Where is it in the media? Has anyone asked for the resignation of the SSP or the DIG? There have been a series of rapes in Madhya Pradesh – has anyone clamoured for the resignation of the district police chief? But in Delhi, as soon as something like this happens, its said the Commissioner of Police (CP) must resign”. Why is nothing demanded from the MP CM or DIG of police? Or of Karnataka?

And in something that the PM himself suffers from, the one who is making amends is being punished. The PM brought in transparency in coal by bringing in auctions, and we are asking for his resignation because the earlier opaque system continued for a few more years before auctions came in. The Delhi Police Chief is also being harassed for something similar: “Post the December 16 gangrape, I gave instructions that once a girl or a woman comes to a police station, her complaint will be recorded verbatim, issues of jurisdiction will not be raised. Do you know the result? There has been a more than 158% increase in the number of rape complaints registered. In molestation complaints, the increase has been 600%, in eve teasing cases, 700% - all since January. Now at press conferences, I am told that rapes have increased, the crime is out of control. So I am being beaten with my own stick. I have tried to set a system right, but those statistics are being used against me”.

Of course, just like the central government, no one appreciates the good work done. That as late as FY11, India grew by 9.2%. That we are still amongst the fastest growing countries. No one appreciates the good work: “I am proud to tell you that about 90% cases have been solved. And most of them were solved within the first week”.

Did you know that protestors used iron rods???? And no one in media covered this???? “The second day when it started again, we were in a bind, because the following day the Russian President (Vladimir Putin) was to visit Hyderabad House and Republic Day preparation were on. The protestors were using iron rods to attack policemen. All day long we used water cannons, tear gas shells. But they would not leave. And it began to become dark. So at some time, this unlawful assembly had to be dispersed”. 

Here’s a truth that everyone knows but no one wants to accept. The same thing happened when the two-penny actress Priti Jain complained against noted film Director Madhur Bhandarkar: “If you are in a live-in relationship, the sexual relationship you are having is of a consensual nature. If the man says at some stage that I do not intend to marry you, the woman then says, OK I will register a rape case against you. Then she says she has been raped continuously for three years. A large number of cases fall within this category”.

And this is so true. Media chases sensational stories. No one cares for the happier news: “I have been called her to Idea Exchange because of the controversial incidents that have happened; I wish you had called me when we had cracked the Pune blast cases. The maximum number of Indian Mujahideen modules were busted by the Delhi Police. We solve the Defence Colony bank heist, arrested everybody within no time, but there was no appreciation. The December 16 gangrape was cracked in no time, but there was no mention of the fact that the police had solved it…..If the pentagon were attacked by terrorists in Washington, and the police had cracked the case within 72 hours like the Delhi Police did, what would have happened in the US? The then President Mr Bush would have called the police officers to the White House, felicitated them in public…..We have forgotten to appreciate each other, we do not boost the morale of each others, and that is why we are country we are. You can keep bashing a dead horse, but how much will you bash. And then you expect the police to crack cases?”

The only one statement of his which got some media publicity was: “If my resigning would stop rapes of children, brutalization of women, domestic violence, I will resign a thousand times. This is not a response from a mature society”.

And here’s something that I have often wondered about. How can police standing on the road figure out what happens inside air conditioned buses which have their windows shut? Of course no one wants to be rational: “Stand with me on the route of that bus. Standing there, it is difficult to tell what is happening inside each vehicle. Theoretically, the gangrape was preventable. But none of the accused had a criminal record. And how would the police know that this would happen, that those men intended to pick up a girl at that time? Was there an SOS from the vehicle? Did the cars behind and alongside notice anything amiss inside the bus? The answer is no. Hypothetically, the police should have known, but it is not practical”.

And one last piece: “In the case of the 5 year old girl, the victim used to come down to be with the accused Manoj every day, watching TV in his room. However on the day she went missing, her parents did not even once express any suspicion of him. Had they said anything, the police would have broken the lock to his room. The point is that until the parents do not express suspicions about someone, we cannot go breaking locks”.

The real truth is that a bunch of hoodlums who call themselves protestors has captured Delhi. Today’s Delhi is going the old Kolkata way. There is a protest every alternate week, if not day. Our media is so irresponsible that it projects these hoodlums as heroes. This is something that all of us have to mull over. Where will this take us????

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