It was just by coincidence that on International Women’s Day, I googled for “Crimes Uttar Pradesh”, not expecting an article titled – “BBC News – Rape and murder in Uttar Pradesh” – to splash on the first results page! The article sent shivers down my spine!
Uttar Pradesh has witnessed an escalation in crimes against women (mostly rapes andattempted rapes) over the years. The statistics published by National Crime Records Bureau estimates that 1,759 women were raped in the state in 2009. That is almost a shocking five rapes a day!
These numbers might shock you and me, but the police and state administration in U.P. seem unperturbed! In particular, several sources reveal that the government and police provide little assistance when crimes are committed against Dalits! The police in the state are hand-in-glove with the perpetrators of crime – they not only hide high, crime, statistics but also allegedly indulge in such crimes themselves! As a result, the helpless women of U.P. have taken matters into their own hands!
Sampat Pal Devi and her gang of supporters have formed a group called Gulabi Gang or Pink Vigilantes! These women – clad in pink saris – arm themselves with lathis or long sticks to beat men who have abandoned or abused their wives and policemen who have refused to register claims of rape. They emphasize that they are not anti-men and only target wrongdoers!
It is indeed saddening that one of their own – Mayawati (a woman from the Dalit community) – whom they elected to power (as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh from 2007 to 2012) failed to protect and improve their living conditions! Most U.P’s Dalits live in mud huts that have no water, electricity or toilets! Thus, every evening people leave the safety of homes towards dark fields for ablution. In these dark hours, Dalit women are trapped and assaulted!
Shockingly, reports reveal that Mayawati and her government neither brought rape culprits to book nor showed solidarity with the victims – no protection or vigilance, not even an empathizing visit! As a result, the people of U.P. voted her out of power in 2012 and decided to elect Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party (S.P.) which was in the opposition! As if to take advantage of the beleaguered women of U.P., Samajwadi Party projected a high number of women candidates for the 2012 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections! It is not surprising that twenty-two women candidates from S.P. won in these 2012 elections!
Effective from March 2012, S.P.’s candidates have a hard task at hand! Arresting criminals, protecting Gulabi Gang and their folk, and providing basic amenities to the down-trodden of U.P. should be their top priorities!
You never know – S.P. politicians/authorities might eventually use their party symbol – the cycle – at breakneck speeds to save those in trouble ! What say?