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Open letter to Delhi Police for action against the police for sexual abuse, violence and initimidation #Vaw

Dated: February 9, 2013

 

 

OPEN LETTER TO DELHI POLICE AND OTHER AUTHORITIES

DEMANDING ACTION AGAINST THE POLICE

FOR SEXUAL ABUSE, VIOLENCE AND INTIMIDATION

 

Shri Neeraj Kumarji,

 

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, are shocked by the reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence perpetrated by the police (in tacit association with some supporters of Narendra Modi), through its words, gestures and actions, on students who were protesting outside Shri Ram College of Commerce and at Maurice Nagar Police Station on February 6, 2013.

 

We are also dismayed by the vindictive, undemocratic and preemptive manner in which the police have filed ‘rioting’ and other criminal cases on February 7, 2013, against the protestors and victims of sexual harassment after they had filed FIRs against police harassment, while allowing the errant police personnel and others involved in taunting and beating up the protesting students to go free. The 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 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, and especially when they are not guilty of any wrongdoing, students will be scared to complain against the ghastly sexual harassment.

 

On 6th of February, there was a large protest outside , Delhi University, against the invitation of and talk by Mr Modi by SRCC Students Union. The protest was organised by various students’ groups and individuals. The road in front of SRCC had 3 rows of barricades on each side, some of which were subsequently broken. Not only was the police  extremely vicious in their handling of the situation, their actions  were also  highly sexist and communal. They passed lewd remarks about women standing near the barricade. Some made kissing gestures and noises, asked women to come closer and talk to them. They also very openly stared and laughed at women in a way that was clearly sexist and disgusting, whistling and winking at and even groping the female students and beating them (and the boys) up sadistically with lathis. In addition water cannons were also used against them. They used the choicest abuses, with ‘kuttia’ (bitch) being among the mildest. When a woman student demanded that women police officers be present at the barricade as well to confront women students, she was told ‘aap aurat kahaan se hain’ (in what way are you a woman?). Women were also told repeatedly to give up as they were too weak to break barricades.

In all this harassment, students supporting Mr Modi and the police seemed to be  in connivance with each other, and literally amusing themselves in their harassment of the female protestors Some students (apparently from the ABVP) who were supporting Mr. Modi seemed to have the approval and indulgence of the police. They were allowed on the other side of the barricade. A few even climbed on to the police water cannons and danced on them as they were aimed at the protestors. Some openly threatened female students with Gujarat-like consequences – “Jo mein huya vaise tujh me ghusa doonga” (Will thrust into you, as was  done in ), while brandishing a lathi and similar objects.  But none of these people was picked up by the police or detained. Instead, after lathi charging students, laughing and joking as they did so, the police engaged in picking up some of the anti-Modi protestors (including young women) and pushing them into a crowd of pro-Modi youth who then beat them in full view of the police. Some anti-Modi protestors were picked up and taken to the police station, and beaten up on the way (including on the head and groin with lathis). These included some students who had not crossed any barricades and were only shouting slogans and then protesting at the police behaviour. At the police station, women students who had come to enquire about others who had been picked up by the police were groped and felt up by the police when they tried to enter. (See a few eyewitness accounts in reference cited below)   

We are outraged by the sexually abusive and violent behaviour of men in uniform, behavior that has no place in discharge of the ‘law and order’ duties of police. This behaviour is offensive and 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 Delhi, this raises huge questions and concerns about the safety of women in Delhi. How can young students ever have the confidence to approach the police to register complaints about sexual violence when policemen themselves indulge in this kind of sexual abuse and permit sexual intimidation in their very presence?

 

In the evening, when some of us learnt these details, we called up Ms. Sindhu Pillai DCP/North and spoke to her on the phone. She was in complete denial, extremely hostile and blamed the students themselves.  Our concerns were simply dismissed with a response that we should “file a complaint,” with justification of the actions of the police. However, in the light of subsequent events, the real intent behind this advice was possibly to identify more protestors so that the police could file criminal cases against the students. Whom should victims of police sexual violence 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 simply being out?

 

It is an extremely grave and worrisome reflection on the administration of 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. 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 just does its job?

 

The lack of accountability of the police is one of the significant reasons for the rampant sexual violence in the city and country. If there is any political will to stop this, it must manifest itself through :

  • ·        an immediate withdrawal of the vindictive and intimidatory police FIR which will deter any student from coming forward to complain against sexual harassment;
  • ·        suspension of errant officers (the concerned SHOs, ACP and DCP) pending a transparent, and public, inquiry by officers who inspire public confidence.

 

Prompt and strict action alone can end this impunity. We demand that the state and central governments demonstrate their intent and sincerity to make Delhi a safe place. 

 

  1. Prof. Malini Bhattacharya, Ex Chairperson, NCW
  2. Prof Uma Chakravarti (Retd), Delhi University
  3. Brinda Karat, Former MP, Rajya Sabha
  4. Prof Nandini Sundar, Delhi University
  5. Prof Utsa Patnaik (Retd),, JNU
  6. Prof.Vimal Thorat
  7. Githa Hariharan, Author
  8. Prof Zoya Hasan, JNU
  9. Prof Mary E John, Centre for Women’s Studies and Development
  10. Seema Mustafa, Centre for Policy Analysis
  11. Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
  12. Sehba Faruqui, AIDWA
  13. Annie Raja, NFIW
  14. Kalpana Mehta, SAHELI
  15. Kavita Shrivastava, PUCL
  16. Vrinda Grover, Advocate
  17. Prof Satish Deshpande, Delhi University
  18. Prof Prabhat Patnaik (Retd), JNU
  19. Prof. Amiya Bagchi, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata
  20. Prof Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU
  21. Prof Anand Chakravarti (Retd), Delhi University
  22. Prof. Mukul Priyadarshini, Delhi University
  23. Prof. Rajni Palriwala, Delhi University
  24. Prof Dwijendra Nath Kalia, Delhi University
  25. Prof Sumangala Damodaran, Delhi University
  26. Prof Saumyajit Bhattacharya, Delhi University
  27. Prof Pragati Mahapatra, Delhi University
  28. Prof Ashwini Deshpande, Delhi University
  29. Prof Lata Singh, Delhi University
  30. Prof Shamsul Islam, Delhi University
  31. Prof Mona Das, Delhi University
  32. Prof Shashishekhar Singh, Delhi University
  33. Prof Inder Dutt, Delhi University
  34. Prof Tara Negi, Delhi University
  35. Prof Reyaz Ahmad, Delhi University
  36. Prof. Ravinder Jha, Delhi University
  37. Prof Rajiv Jha, Delhi University
  38. Jagmati Sangwan, AIDWA
  39. Prof Jayati Ghosh, JNU
  40. Prof Anuradha Chenoy, JNU
  41. Prof. Janaki Nair, JNU
  42. Prof Kumkum Roy, JNU
  43. Ranjana Nirula, CITU
  44. AR Sindhu, AIFAWH
  45. Prof SS Jodhka, JNU
  46. Prof. CP Chandrashekar, JNU
  47. Surajit Mazumdar, Ambedkar University, Delhi
  48. Prof Mritiunjoy Mohanty, IIM, Kolkata
  49. Ram Rahman, SAHMAT
  50. Prof. K J Mukherjee, JNU
  51. Prof. Praveen Jha, JNU
  52. Prof Mohan Rao, JNU
  53. Prof Girish Aggarwal, IIT, Delhi
  54. Arindam Banerjee, Ambedkar University, Delhi
  55. Nandini Rao
  56. Prof Ayesha Kidwai, JNU
  57. Prof Rohit, South Asian University (SAU)
  58. Smita Gupta, AIDWA
  59. Akhila Singh, Indian School of Women’s Studies and Development
  60. Prof. G Arunima, JNU
  61. Sadhna Arya
  62. Harsh Kapoor, South Asia Citizens Web
  63. Indira Chakravarthi, Women Against Sexual Violence & State Repression
  64. Prof. Archana Prasad, Jamia Millia Islamia
  65. Prof Vamsi Vakulabharanam, University of Hyderabad
  66. Shalini Gera, DU
  67. Prof Shamim Modi, TISS
  68. Justin Burrett (BCL)
  69. Mamata Dash, WSS, Delhi
  70. Komita Dhanda, JANAM
  71. Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangthan
  72. Prof G Omkarnath, University of Hyderabad
  73. Asha Mishra (BGVS)
  74. Manoj Kulkarni (Tulika Samwad)
  75. Prof Anoop Saraya (AIIMS)
  76. Neelima Sharma (Artist)
  77. Sameer Dossani (Journalist)
  78. Dr Rahul Singh (Delhi)
  79. Dipa Sinha, JNU
  80. Shweta, JNU
  81. Sanjay Basu Mullick, All Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM)
  82. Zakia Soman, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
  83. Suneeta Dhar
  84. Madhu Bala
  85. Rahul Roy
  86. Kamayani Bali Mahabal ( lawyer and activist )
  87. Uma V. Chandru, WSS Karnataka
  88. Shraddha Chickeru
  89. Geetha Nambisan
  90. Elisabeth Armstrong
  91. Madhurima Nundy
  92. Prof. N. Raghuram, President, IPU Teachers Association
  93. Prof Vijita S Aggarwal, IP University
  94. Bhargavi Dilipkumar, Delhi Forum
  95. Prof Shalini Arora, IGIT
  96. Annie Jangam
  97. Sarvesh Tripathi USMC, IP University
  98. Prof. Chhaya Ravi Kant, IP University
  99. Nakul Sawhney
  100.   Prof Ritoo Jerath, JNU
  101.  Vimal Bhai, NAPM
  102.   Kiran Shaheen, Women for Water Democracy
  103.    Anurag Modi, Shramik Adivasi Sangathan
  104.   Warisha Farasat, Lawyer
  105. Anjali Sinha
  106.  Nalini Vishwanathan

 

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Comments (2)

  1. Tanushree Gangopadhyay

    Please include my name in the list.

  2. I have been following your blog issue wise. I have always found strength through your writing and thus reinforced my beliefs.

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