Amid a nationwide outcry over Badaun gangrape case, Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil on Wednesday courted controversy by his remark on the issue of checking such crimes, saying it is impossible to post a policeman at every home where most of these incidents take place.
“Many crimes against women happen within the confines of homes. Is it possible to have a policeman in every household?” Patil said replying to a debate on crimes against women and dalits in the Legislative Council.
“40 per cent rapes are committed by persons known to the victim. 6.34 per cent rapes are committed by brothers and fathers, 6.65 per cent by close relatives and 40 per cent on the promise of marriage,” he said. Patil insisted crimes like rape had increased due to “erosion in moral values”.
He, however, claimed incidents of crimes against women in Maharashtra were lesser compared to other states.
Patil’s remarks drew strong reactions from the opposition with its leader in the Legislative Council Vinod Tawde of BJP describing the minister as an “abject failure” in containing crimes against women.
“There is no need to post a constable at every home. The Home Minister’s work should be such that one policeman is able to control 10,000 people. Maharashtra police had this kind of mettle which is not there ever since the present minister assumed office,” he said.
BJP’s Lok Sabha member Poonam Mahajan also hit out at Patil.
“The Congress-NCP government has been in Maharashtra for 15 years, and as long as it is there, crime against women cannot be stopped.
“Four months from now, there would come a change (after assembly elections) and women’s safety would then top the government’s agenda,” she said.
As he came under attack from the opposition, Patil said his comments were misconstrued.
“Maharashtra continues to be a safe state for women. I have said that safety of women was, is, and will always be our top priority. If there are deficiencies, those would be dealt with,” he later told reporters.
About his comment that policeman cannot be deployed in every home, Patil said, “Ensuring stringent punishment to the perpetrators is our duty. We would see to it that they are given exemplary punishment, like in Shakti Mills rape case, so that nobody dares to commit rape.”
Last year, a photo-journalist was gang-raped in the deserted mill compound in the heart of Mumbai. The incident came as a shock as the city is considered safe for women.
Within days, another woman said that she had earlier been raped there by a gang, which included some of the same culprits.
The issue of crime against women came again into focus after two teenage cousins were gangraped and murdered last month in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh, with their bodies found hanging from a tree.
Earlier, in his reply to the debate, Patil said women victims of crimes will be able to get a lawyer of their choice.
The government, he said, will deploy 500 wireless vans, each with a woman police officer, to check crimes against women. The vehicles will be procured in 2 months, he said.
A special squad of 200 women commandos will be appointed soon to curb chain snatching, he said.
Patil’s statement came days after presentation of the state’s Economic Survey report for 2013-14 which said a whopping 17,800 cases of crime against women and 3,456 cases of crime against children were reported in Maharashtra in 2012.
Among the cases against women, there were 1,839 of rape, 1,140 of kidnapping, 329 dowry deaths, 7,415 of domestic violence, 3,935 of molestation, 1,294 of sexual harassment and 366 cases of illegal trafficking.