Wednesday, January 2

Two views of the Indian Police, from the Police

The case of the Indian woman gang raped and who subsequently died from her injuries is pretty gruesome. The onus obviously fell on the police, who basically took corrupt payments to allow these buses to ply. And the dismal rate of convictions (600 cases and 1 conviction). So what do the police themself say? Here are two contradictory views. First:

Reviled as an ineffective, uncouth force that terrorizes people rather than protect them, Delhi Police officials find scarce favour with Delhiites. Indrani Basu of TOI spoke to a lower functionary of the force to unveil a lesser-known side of the daily functioning of the 76,000-strong team that is supposed to keep the city safe.

When I joined the police force, I didn't know I would spend most of my time doing things other than what I was trained for. The public expects police to help them with every problem, including matters unrelated to our work.

The control room receives roughly 24,000 calls a day; 70% of these are not policing matters. Almost daily we are called in for civic disputes, problems with electric supply, presence of stray dogs, monkeys - the list is endless.

Civic agencies should handle such complaints but people call the police as other control rooms don't spring into action. We have to resolve the issue as it may become a law and order problem. There have been occasions where we've fetched electricians or other technicians to resolve some issue.

The public perceives us as unruly and uncouth. Much of this has to do with our working conditions. Unlike other government departments, all of which have fixed work-hours, cops don't have any shift system.

I may have a 12-hour duty but if I get a distress call 30 minutes before I'm to leave, I must attend to the call. This can take hours - many times the next 12 hours - to sort out. It's usual to work 24 hours without rest and continue the next day. The Delhi Police Act says an officer is on duty round the clock. A policeman gets a month's extra salary every year to compensate for working without a shift system, but this compromises quality of work.

Many times we don't get vehicles to respond to distress calls. We usually use private conveyance to reach the crime spot: our own or an auto. There are around 15-20 cops per police station. But not more than four or five motorcycles are provided to each. Most bikes are on patrolling duty.

Some stations have an emergency response vehicle. The conveyance allowance up to an Inspector's rank is about Rs 375 a month. This cripples our work. There is need for a proper emergency response unit for every call received; not leave an officer to his own devices.

Investigations throw up their own kind of miscellaneous expenses that you will never see in official statistics. From getting a post-mortem done to collecting forensic reports, our pocket is made lighter in many ways. We have to submit a charge-sheet within 90 days, but with limited forensic facilities we invariably incur expenses to get test results on time.

Provisions exist to claim investigation expenditure, but it's a tedious process. Also, there are no proper bills for most such expenses. For example, every year we remove several dead bodies. We make our own arrangements to retrieve the body and take it to the mortuary. Usually, we rope in a passerby willing to do the job in return for payment that comes from our own pocket. How can we claim such expenses?

We don't even have basic facilities. No buildings or land are demarcated for police stations when an area is developed. Outposts come up based on need. Many times such outposts are mere tents. It doesn't feel like we work for a serious organization.

Several stations don't have facilities for overnight stay though duty can stretch to three, four days continuously. Issues of mosquitoes, unhygienic surroundings and unavailability of fans plague many. Some police stations don't even have access to drinking water. There may be no water connection even. Lack of proper facilities causes us to function with a negative frame of mind.

Such tough work conditions make us an unhappy lot, which sometimes compromises the police-public interface. Many cope with the pressure by resorting to corruption, anger, brutality - a vicious cycle.

We constantly deal with criminals with no stress-relieving facilities provided. Many cops need psychological counselling, therapy to deal with their daily stress. No such facility is available. Some medical camps have raised these concerns but they are never resolved.

Feel pity for them? Here’s another interview with a copper. The chap also calls the rapists as bastards, as I did, and got into trouble for saying that. But leaving that aside for the moment, the opinions are pretty Neanderthal. Now check what they said about women.

I realised that according to stringent criteria of the Delhi Police, almost all women deserve to be raped. And here’s why:

Who are these people, I'd wonder, who genuinely believe that a woman would deliberately provoke sexual assault. Reuters

One, she is not in a salwar kameez or sari, at all times

Most urban professional women wear a lot of skirts, jeans, blouses, and dresses. And they usually carefully calibrate what they wear according to where they will be: out on the street or at an upmarket bar/restaurant. But all this effort is pointless because as Satbir Singh, Additional SHO of Sector 31 Police Station, Faridabad, puts it: “Ladkiya jo hai unko yahan tak yahan tak (he gestures to mean that women should cover their entire body, then carries on speaking)… Skirt pehenti hai. Blouse dalti hai; poora nahi dalti hai. Dupatta nahi dalti. Apne aapko dikhawa karti hai. Baccha uske taraf akarshit hota hai.” (Girls should be covered from here to here… They wear skirts, blouses, that don’t cover them fully. Don’t wear a dupatta. They display themselves. A kid will naturally be attracted to her.)

Sub-Inspector Arjun Singh, SHO of Surajpur Police Station, Greater Noida, clarifies the position further: “She is dressed in a manner that people get attracted to her. In fact, she wants them to do something to her.”

In other words, unless a woman is fully covered from head to toe – at all times – shewants men to rape her.

Two, if a woman is in a sexual relationship with one man, then she deserves to be raped by him and all his friends. Dharamveer Singh, Additional SHO at Indirapuram Police Station in Ghaziabad, tells Tehelka: “It’s very rare that a girl is forcefully picked up by 10 boys. A girl who gets into a car with boys is never innocent. If she does, she definitely has a relationship with at least one of them.”

Three, she keeps the company of drunk men. Is it bad judgement to drink with strangers in India? Yes. And many of us are far too cautious to slam back the vodka unless we are amongst good friends. But who cares since our men in uniform seem to think that alcohol and opportunity is sufficient – and just – cause for rape:

Roop Lal of Sector 40, Gurgaon, sought to find a rationale to the occurrence of gang-rape: “Jaise hum log baithe hai, zyaada daaru pee li. Chalte peeli. Behnchodh, phekh saala, phir to aise hi hoga. Raat bhar rakh li. Uska jawab kya degi wo apne gharwalon ko, ki jo ek ghante ke liye keh kar gayi hai, aur poori night main kahan gayi thi. To maa-baap to poochenge, bhai bhi poochega. Jinka samaaj hai woh to poochte hai (Say we are sitting and had one drink too many while on the move… it’s obvious that it’ll happen. Keep her for the entire night. What will she tell her parents? She was supposed to be away for an hour and has ended up being out the entire night. Parents will question, so will her brother. Society will ask questions.”)

So when a man drinks, he turns into a sex-crazed animal ready to rape the nearest woman. When a woman drinks, she is a slut looking to be raped. Ergo, women should not drink, nor should she place herself anywhere in the vicinity of men who do. (A rule that includes being in a bar late at night) And even if one of the men happens to be your boyfriend, it is no cause to let your guard down because: See reason #2.

Four, a girl deserves to be raped because her mother is a “slut.” When all else fails, blame the mom. That seems to be the reasoning of the investigating officer in the Noida gang rape case which involved a Class X student. Here’s Ram Malik’s justification for the rape of a minor: “The girl’s mother is divorced. She’s living with another man from the Yadav community. She’s 48 whereas the man is 28. It’s inevitable the two daughters will be wayward, isn’t it?”

Five, a woman deserves to be raped because she belongs to the upper class – or the lower class. Upper class women don’t know how to behave or dress modestly, which invites trouble. They are also either high class hookers, or alcohol and drug-addicted floozies. Their lower class peers, however, are just looking to make a quick buck.

In fact, according to 17 of the 30 policemen interviewed by Tehelka that “real” rape cases are rare: “There are cases but 70 percent involve consensual sex. Only if someone sees, or the money is denied, it gets turned into rape”

Sub-Inspector Manoj Rawat of Noida’s Sector 24 Police Station is far more skeptical: “Everything in NCR happens with mutual understanding. My personal view is that there are one or two percent rape cases in NCR.”

And six, a woman deserves to be raped because she reported the rape. The most astounding revelation in the Tehelka expose is this: most rape complaints are false, motivated by either vindictiveness or monetary gain. It’s an excellent example of circular logic:

Tehelka asked Yogender Singh Tomar, Additional SHO, Sector 39, Noida, if it was easy for a rape victim to approach the police. His answer left us shocked: “Aasaan nahi hota uske liye. Bezzati se sabhi darti hai. Akhbaar baazi se bhi darti hai. Asliyat main wahin aati hai jo dhande main lipt hoti hai (It’s never easy for the victim. Everyone is scared of humiliation. Everyone’s wary of media and society. In reality, the ones who complain are only those who have turned rape into a business).”

In other words, if you’re “really” raped, you would never complain. If you complain, you were not “really” raped.

So here’s the bottomline, ladies and gentleman. If we were to apply the this insane litmus test to all the women we know – friends, family members, distant relatives, colleagues, maids, or acquaintances – none of us would make the grade. According to the Delhi police, we all deserve to be raped.

Before one gets up and going, one has to see that pretty much the same views were uttered by the politicians, they are uttered by the various religious bastards of the sri ram sene ilk from the Hindu right to the Muslim muppets who prefer to shove their women in burqa’s and marry them off to the rich shiekhs by giving them a religious justification for prostitution. Same sermons one gets from pretty much across the society. Try to walk in any Indian city with you wearing a skirt, the stares you get are amazing..its just ludicrous. And yes, I have done so, went across an entire town wearing a ghagra choli on a bet.

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