Gurgaon rape: 5 points for a petition to demand facts and improve policing in the city- March 15, 2012

As the momentum built up through the day among Gurgaon’s citizens to protest against police apathy towards the recent rape and of course, many other rapes, molestations and other crimes against women in the city, I began to wonder about what a petition to the government would look like if I were to write it.

Well, with regards to safety, my first concern would be to examine the quality of policing and the condition of police reforms in the country, especially Haryana. After all, policing is one of the central functions of governance, public health and safety being the overall objective of good governance.

Here are some of the points I would put in.

1. Police-population ratio: As per data from the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2010, there are only 130 policemen in India per 100,000 people, way below the stipulated UN norm of 220. Fewer policemen are recruited in most states than the sanctioned number of posts. This also means most policemen never get a day off and this hugely impacts their performance and motivation. A petition to the Haryana government would need to ask (or find out beforehand) what the figures are for Gurgaon and demand a better ratio for an upcoming urban area that is a lucrative source of revenue for the state government.

Poor quality of policing is also closely linked to the mode of recruitment. Widespread corruption and the usual practice of ‘buying’ jobs means there is no control on the quality of recruits.Which brings me to reforms, the main point on the agenda.

2. Adoption of police reforms as dictated by SC in 2006: Policing in India was governed by archaic laws made in 1861, until in 2006, the SC laid down seven directives for states to adopt. These included functional autonomy for police (via tenure security, streamlined appointment and transfer processes, a buffer body to delink police from government), more accountability (organizational and individual).

The petition should ask the Haryana government whether any of these reforms have been implemented and urge them to do so. Less political interference would directly result in better policing as rapists and perpetrators of other crimes with political patronage would not get away as easily. Recruitment process should also be addressed.

3. Training programs and general capacity building: Does the Haryana government regularly train its police force? A research exercise conducted by MIT and IIM in Rajasthan in 2008 shows that public perception about police force as well as actual performance can improve with small interventions like training in hard and soft skills, giving policemen a day off, etc. Building motivation, sensitizing police to social conditions is especially important in Gurgaon, which is urbanizing rapidly, creating stress between existing and new populations. The petition must demand information on existing training and suggest capacity building programs.

4. Creation of a mechanism to engage with community: Citizen groups must demand a cell within the police that will engage with citizens and seek to understand issues, address problem and foster an environment that is capable of evolving creative solutions for the long-term issues threatening the city’s socio-economic fabric. This cell must communicate outwards to offer correct information to the public. Citizens can help provide professional PR and communications support so the police don’t keep goofing up on what they have to say!

5. Protection of victim’s identity: ‘No loose talk by police personnel’ must be included the petition. It is important to protect victims if we are to get more rape cases reported, investigated and hopefully more rapists convicted. The petition must urge the government to make this a legally binding order. Citizen groups also need to take it upon themselves to specifically protest if this is violated. Media should take voluntary responsibility to refrain from publishing identifying details.

I guess I could go on, with more research. But I will stop at this for tonight.

My point is that, as citizens, our approach should be well-researched and we should be willing to get involved in this through till the end. Perhaps it is the job of a focused citizen task force to pursue this, but it needs to be done in a sensitive and sustained manner. It’s our city and we need to rally together to ensure these questions get answered and reforms addressed and implemented. Otherwise, it is our lives at stake!


About ramblinginthecity

I am an architect and urban planner, a writer and an aspiring artist. I love expressing myself and feel strongly that cities should have spaces for everyone--rich, poor, young, old, healthy and sick, happy or depressed--we all need to work towards making our cities liveable and lovable communities.

Posted on March 15, 2012, in Politics & Citizenship and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Rape is the extreme scenario and needs to be confronted in every way possible. But we live in such a claustrophobic society!! There was a report in the Hindu yesterday titled “Students of opposite sex traveling together in a bus is no offence : Court” that caught my eye. The report was sketchy – but what i could make out was that a certain college near Madurai had dismissed a girl and a boy student last November for ‘exchanging “indecent” SMS messages’ and ‘for travelling together in a bus’!! The students had filed a petition in court challenging their dismissal. Some of the quotations from the Judge’s statements also make hilarious (outrageous!!) reading – and as in all our justice systems, probably no final case must have been adjourned for the next hearing!

  2. Very well researched Mukta. Hope this leads to something concrete. You must be getting a lot of responses in support. The key would be to channelize this initial urge to do something into something that can lead to a substantial action.

  3. Best of luck to get Haryana Govt to respond, acting on your 5 points.
    There have been enough Reports on Police Reforms,if you had seen former DGP UP Police on NDTV,he was saying that this is the first stage for any Govt to improve Policing.
    No State Govt,forget any politician would act on these Reforms.
    Mind you we are discussing serious Womans issues against backdrop of a Woman President,Speaker of Lok Sabha,Opposition Leader and a Soniaji,Woman CMs in 3 States
    What have they let alone pass the Womens Reservation Bill.

  4. Sangeeta S Bahl

    The seriousness of the situation has to be handled now. All active women must present a case together because in UNITY there is Strength. I urge all women to stand up and voice your protests!!

  5. With regards to Police accountability, there should also be a direct relation between the elected local body and the management of the city’s police. The fact that the Gurgaon police is a sub set of the State Police makes local accountability difficult to enforce. The local municipal government should be able to transfer/take effective action on erring police officials.

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