This is a Guest post by Simin Akhter, with inputs from Kamal Pant, Naina Singh and Vikas – 16 December Kranti
(Notes from the ongoing protests in the child sexual abuse case against Toddlers International Playschool, Rohini)
In a heinous and unfortunate show of power and violence, a two and a half year-old girl was raped by a male attendant at Toddlers International playschool (Rohini). Though the parents could manage to file an FIR, the management has threatened them with dire consequences. The principal has been openly shielding the accused, Amit Kumar, despite prior complaints of inappropriate behaviour by aggrieved parents and was allegedly shameless and audacious enough to tell the parents, ‘The police have been fed too well enough to open their mouths’! It also came to light during the protest yesterday that a similar FIR was filed two years back too but no police records could be found for the same; no wonder!
Almost 30 other girls have been detected with a certain strain of bacterial urinary infection, indicating the said two-year old is not the only victim. Many other children have been suffering from mouth-ulcers and a general loss of appetite too, reflecting also on the general lack of health and hygiene practices in the school. A group of parents, grandparents and concerned citizens, mostly young women and men, from in and around Rohini have got together for a relay protest but parents of other victims have not been forthcoming with formal complaints. Needless to say, the greater the delay in filing the complaints, the more legal intervention will get delayed.
The media is all praise for the central government’s rescue efforts in Kashmir, despite the evident hollowness of the government’s claims to heroism. But the press has little to say about the brutal destruction authored by the government in its capital city. Thursday, September 11, saw another demolition drive in a city that has seen far too many of them, from the Emergency to the Commonwealth Games. The demolition took place in the South Delhi neighborhood of Aya Nagar, where residents say about 250 houses were destroyed.
Protests against the situation in Gaza have been held in Delhi yesterday, (Sunday, 13th July, and today, 14th July, in the morning). Yesterday, on Sunday morning, there was a peaceful protest in front of the Israeli Embassy – this came out of a call for protest by individuals. Yesterday, about a hundred odd people, including many young people, had gathered. I was present at this gathering. Some people made statements condemning the Israeli state’s aggression against the Palestinian people. The Delhi Police was present, but did not try to disrupt or disturb the protest. The protest happened right in front of the Israeli Embassy gates on Aurungzeb Road.
The bizarre drama yesterday, involving one of the Aam Aadmi Party ministers, Somnath Bharti, should make the AAP leadership sit up and think. Here is a brief extract from a report:
Less than 24 hours after he led a midnight raid and tried to bully police into arresting some “Nigerians or Ugandans” who he alleged were members of “a prostitution-and-drug ring”, Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti returned to the very spot on Thursday and asked residents to draw up a list of houses where “such people” live and said he would personally check each one.
The minister got embroiled in a full-scale confrontation with the ACP, BS Jakhar, who insisted, correctly that the police were not legally empowered to do this. According to the same report, Jakhar said, “The minister told me that the women inside are part of a drug racket and that we should conduct a raid in all houses in the area. I told him that the law does not permit us to barge into someone’s house, so late in the night, without a search warrant.” But to not effect. The minister was not only unfazed; he even went on say that he had “received a lot of complaints from women in this locality against foreign nationals, yeh hum aur aap jaise nahin hain (They are not like you or me).” Continue reading Xenophobia, Racism and Vigilantism – Danger Signals for AAP→
In the middle of the day a few days ago, a group of around ten people held hands and blocked the traffic on the road opposite the police headquarters at ITO, Delhi, protesting and calling for the removal of the Police Commissioner after a young, young child had been raped and the police had done nothing, not file an FIR, nor act.
In this instance, it was not only the brutality of the act that had shaken us up. A young child, five years of age, raped by neighbours, bad enough to hold one’s head in shame – yes. There was outrage. But there was also outrage that a police officer had tried to bribe the family of the girl – with two thousand rupees – to avoid filing an FIR. Then, to add insult to injury, a young woman protester slapped repeatedly by an impatient policeman, an Assistant Commissioner of Police no less, when she tried to get inside the hospital where the child was in a critical condition.
Why were we there, that afternoon outside the Delhi Police Headquarters? What had prompted people to gather at the AIIMS metro station the day the child was shifted there for care, what was being said, who was being addressed? Was it a silent vigil, in hope that this little child does not meet the same fate as the 23 year old woman gang raped just a few months ago? Was it also to say, this is not the first time it is happening after that fateful day on December 16, 2012? 363 rapes already in just around the NCR the last few months, and here we are again, not exactly happy to be standing outside in outrage thinking of a little girl with bottles in her vagina and terrible infections.Continue reading A Report from the Protests: Kavya Murthy→
It is surreal watching leaders from Sushil Kumar Shinde to Sushma Swaraj make tough statements, one after another, on television. Statements about taking strong measures, the latter even demanding, as is her wont, death sentence to rapists. I felt like asking, do you even realize what the people are angry about? Do you even know what is at issue here? Who will you hang? Case after case, even after December 16, it is being revealed, suffers from the same problem: the refusal of the police to even register a case! What is the meaning of this high histrionics then, when you do not even have a culprit to punish? I am not even raising the question of the ethics of death penalty because that is a redundant question at the moment. Except for the raving right wingers who – like Sushma Swaraj and Shinde – have to make some song and dance about the issue merely for effect, no one else really believes that at the moment there is any issue other than the criminality of Delhi Police. Continue reading Dismiss the Delhi Police Commissioner→
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?