September 23, 2021 11:58:27 am
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said the government will make sure that the perpetrators of gang rape on a medical student in Mysuru on August 24 evening get capital punishment.
“We will hire the best lawyer to prosecute the criminals and ensure that they get capital punishment,” the Chief Minister said in the Assembly, replying to a debate initiated by the Leader of Opposition, Siddaramaiah.
He was referring to the August 24 incident on the foothills of Chamundi hills in Mysuru, where six people from Tamil Nadu allegedly gang raped a medical student.
The gang had intercepted the couple on a bike, dragged them to secluded places, beat them up and perpetrated the offence.
They also made a video of the incident and tried to blackmail the girl to pay a ransom of Rs 3 lakh but when the couple expressed their inability, they were let go. They have since been arrested.
Dismissing Siddaramaiah’s charge that the delay in registering an FIR by police gave rise to doubts that the government wanted to cover up the case, the Chief Minister said a police team went to Mumbai and convinced the victim and her parents to appear before the judge and record her statement.
On the charges about police ‘inaction’, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra said the accused were nabbed within 72 hours of the incident by the Mysuru police, “which is best in the state.”
The government will fast track the case for speedy disposal and ensure that the accused get the maximum punishment, he said, adding that the police team had been given a Rs five lakh reward for having arrested the accused in a short time.
During the debate, Siddaramaiah came down heavily on the conduct of Mysuru police and the state government and alleged that they “miserably failed” and were not serious about the “inhuman incident”.
The senior Congress leader also accused Jnanendra of taking the whole incident “very casually”.
Pointing out that Mysuru is a cultural city, famous tourism centre and an education hub, he said such incidents will impact tourism, parents of students studying there and put a black spot on its cultural identity.
“People are scared after the gang rape incident and parents of students studying in Mysuru are a worried lot,” he said.
Noting that the spot where the gang rape took place was not deserted or a forest area, the former Chief Minister, who hails from the district, said there is a ring road 300 to 400 meters from there, as also a locality called Lalitaadripura nearby.
He said during his visit to the spot about a week after the incident, Mysuru Police Commissioner had told him that incidents have taken place there earlier too.
“When police were aware that criminal activities were happening there, why did they stop the beat and other patrolling measures?” he asked. The nearby police station, with 60 personnel and a Garuda patrol vehicle, is about two km away from the crime spot, he added.
Pointing out that there is 545 acre area around the place where the incident took place, Siddaramaiah said police are unaware as to whom the place belongs to, despite it coming under their jurisdiction. “What kind of policing are they doing? This shows their alertness.”
There is no proper patrolling, despite police being aware that criminal incidents were taking place in the city, he said as he pointed out that within a 30 day span, 16 extortions, murders, rape of a 12-year-old girl, bank robbery and shoot out incidents have taken place in Mysuru city.
“What are police for? Isn’t controlling crime their duty? Punishing the perpetrators is their duty. There should be fear of police,” Siddaramaiah said and pointed out that the six accused who have been arrested, are habitual offenders and from Tamil Nadu.
Listing out details of the incident, he said the private hospital where the victim and her male friend got admitted, after examining and confirming the rape, sent a report to police that it is a Medico-Legal Case.
Alleging that there was a 14-15 hours gap between hospital reporting a MLC and registering an FIR, he demanded to know why there a delay, why the case was first registered under Section 354 (a) of IPC (sexual harassment) and changed to 376(d) and 397 only after protest by people and Congress workers.
“Did police have plans to shut the case? Who was behind it?,” he asked.
The Congress leader equated the incident to the Nirbhaya case in Delhi and a similar one Telangana, and said police still took it “lightly”.
Police have not gone by the Justice J S Verma committee report as per which the victim should have been shifted to a government hospital. The officers also did not ensure that she got necessary counselling and help through ‘Santwana Kendras. “It was mandatory for police to go by committee report,” he said.
Observing that the victim was discharged on August 27 and her male friend on August 26, he said police have not take the victim’s statement after giving her counselling or record her statement before the Magistrate, and let her go to Mumbai with her family.
Health Minister Sudhakar sought to know if the victim could have cooperated with police after what she had gone through. “Rape could have caused a big shock to the victim, but the following inquiry and legal process is another kind of rape on the women or victim.”
The CM said the victim was now in Mysuru and has recorded her statement before the magistrate.
“The victim and her family were given counselling on that day also…today she gave her statement before the magistrate and police succeeded in giving her counselling, despite her going to Mumbai and getting her statement,” he said.
Suggesting that if police had conducted regular patrolling, the incident would not have occurred, the LoP said it is a failure on part of police and delay in filing FIR is a defect in the investigation.
He said a separate FIR was not filed regarding the assault on the victim’s male friend. “Is it not a lapse on part of the police?”
Taking a dig at Home Minister Araga Jnanendra, Siddaramaiah said he visited Mysuru subsequently, but first went to Chamundi hills and offered prayers there, then attended a police academy event and gave a “shooting pose” there and on his way back visited the spot. “This indicates how serious he is.”
Jnanendra said he held meetings twice with officers on the issue before attending the pre-scheduled police academy event. Also several legal experts had advised him not to visit the spot, but he still did so.
Siddaramaiah said the accused had been arrested and he had no complaints on that, but sought to know if an identification parade of the accused was done before the victim and her male friend?.”…police have miserably failed.
According to Mysuru police commissioner, there were only 3,000 policemen for the 15 lakh population in Mysuru city, he said.
“There should be regular patrolling and beat by police after recent crime in city. Instead of patrolling they go to liquor shops for collection. They have brought bad name to Mysuru city.”
Siddaramaiah referred to the Home Minister’s statement after the incident that the victim and her male friend should not have gone to the deserted place at dark, took strong exception to it and reminded him about Mahatma Gandhi’s statement that women should be able to walk freely even at mid night.
Though Jnanendra tried to clarify his intention behind his statement,it received flak from the opposition.
During the debate, JD(S) MLA Sa Ra Mahesh demanded ‘Andhra type justice’, an apparent reference to the encounter of the perpetrators of gang rape in Hyderabad in December 2019. He even warned that he would force the minister to resign if any gang rape happens in future and this type of justice was not done in the state.
In reply, Jnanendra said being a minister, he cannot say anything like that.
Participating in the debate, Congress MLA M Roopakala said the issue should not be taken lightly given the trauma a woman faces, socially, mentally and morally after the incident.
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