A five year old girl is now in a critical condition in a Delhi hospital after being brutalized and raped by a neighbour. The Delhi police, which has dealt with the situation with its characteristic incompetence, first refused to file an FIR when her parents went to the police station, and then, tried to bribe the girls parents with two thousand rupees so as to ‘hush them up’. Subsequently,a young woman who tried to protest against the behaviour of the police at the Dayanand Hospital were the girl was initially taken for treatment was slapped by a policeman, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, in full public view. His actions have been recorded on video. It is believed that the policemen who tried to bribe the victim’s parents and the policeman who slapped the young woman have been suspended.
But can the suspension of a few individuals address what is obviously a deep rooted culture of misogyny and class prejudice (what else is it but class prejudice – would a policeman in a thana, say in an affluent South Delhi colony be able to offer two thousand rupees as ‘hush money’ to parents of an assaulted child with the same ease with which they could in Gandhi Nagar in East Delhi) within the Delhi Police? Is more severe and strict action that goes right to the top and to the source, not necessary in order to send a signal that this kind of behaviour within the police force cannot be tolerated? Must Delhi’s police commissioner not be compelled to resign, for his abysmal failure in terms of dealing with sexism and for failing to address the contempt for citizens who are not affluent that is now clearly endemic to the Delhi Police’s work culture?
Can we take this daily routine of insults lying down? How long can this continue?
The young women and men of Delhi displayed exemplary fortitude and courage in the days following the tragic events of December last year when they took on the full might of the administrative, police and political apparatus in solidarity with the suffering that one of their own had to undergo. Clearly their coming out on to the streets has not changed anything insofar as the conduct of those in power is concerned. There has to be a change of plan.
A protest is planned today in the morning at 11 am in front of the Police Headquarters at ITO in Delhi. It would be good to see a lot of people turn up and say to the police that they have just had enough now.
Perhaps it is time to hand out an ultimatum. Either those at the helm of the Delhi Police offer time bound, concrete plans for how they intend to take steps that will ensure that policemen behave themselves while dealing with citizens, especially young woman, either the police commissioner resigns, or is hounded out of office, or the young people of this city take it upon itself to teach these hooligans in uniform, regardless of their rank, a lesson that they will not forget, in a manner, and at a time of their choosing. Care must be taken to ensure that protests do not turn violent, for that would be pointless. But there are many other ways, besides violence, of turning this city ungovernable, if the police and the administration once again demonstrate that they don’t really care about our lives, our rights, our dignity.
We have had a winter of discontent. Could this now be the beginning of a summer of open, outright rebellion? Only the coming days can tell.