Bangalore rape case: Is India’s IT capital turning into a sex crime capital?

A 6-year-old girl was raped on the premises of a well-known international school in Bangalore. The parents had a tough time dragging the police out of their chairs. But when that did not yield any result, they enlisted the support of other parents of kids studying in that institution and staged a demonstration in front of it seeking action against the culprits.

While the police maintained that it was an ‘outsider’s job’, the victim pointed fingers at the staff of the school. Since the last one week, the parents have been picketing the school prompting the police to launch a full-fledged probe.

Apparently, it was the third such child molestation case reported in that school with the police showing little interest in cracking any of these. Now, the state government has recommended de-recognition of the school while nobody has been arrested so far. This is not an isolated case.

In the last 15 days, there have been as many 12 cases of rape, sexual assault and molestation against women of all age groups, including minors in Bangalore. But the state government simply refuses to admit that the police have become ineffective in reining in anti-social elements.

Will Bangalore, which has earned prestigious tags, such as, IT capital of the nation and Knowledge Hub, get a negative title? Looking at the developments in the city and the laxity of the security agencies concerned, Bangalore is becoming synonymous with rapes, particularly sex-related crimes against women because the perpetrators seem to be getting away easily. Shockingly, the Congress-led government, instead of facing the reality, is questioning the credibility of the previous governments in tackling such situations.

The role of the police in tackling cases relating to crimes against women has come in for serious scrutiny of late. Last week, a girl and her boyfriend were kidnapped at knifepoint (just like in New Delhi) by a six-member gang and sexually molested in Frazer Town in a moving car on a Friday night. Worse was the experience of the victim in the police station after the police inspector asked her to tone down the seriousness of her complaint, directing her to remove the words “rape” and “kidnap”.

The prime accused was the son of a local BSP leader and it did not take much time for the victim to understand the police-politician nexus. The girl had to take the help of the media to highlight her plight. After the issue rocked the ongoing legislature session, the inspector concerned was placed under suspension. While two of the accused have been arrested, the remaining four are still at large.

In an unrelated incident, a 100-strong mob stripped a lady doctor on the outskirts of Bangalore after she allegedly complained of sub-standard quality of food given to students under the midday meal scheme. Four people were arrested in that case only after the incident was reported by the media.

Incidentally, the police had kept this incident under wraps fearing public outburst, but it came to light after the victim was sent to a government hospital for a medical test.

Since the last one week, people are turning up on the streets in thousands, like in New Delhi, to condemn the police inaction and their insensitiveness towards victims of rape and sexual assault. In the Frazer Town incident, the inspector even revealed the name of the victim in violation of the Supreme Court directive, resulting in the family of the accused allegedly issuing threats to her and her family members.

In many of the cases, it has been found that the perpetrators of the crime have been repeat offenders. Even the political establishment admitted that the increase in the number of crimes against women in Bangalore is directly linked to the police-politician nexus. This prompted Karnataka Assembly Speaker Kagodu Thimmappa to direct the government to transfer police officers, who have completed their mandatory 3-year-term, in a particular station.

Whenever, the issue of women’s safety was raised in the legislature in the last one week, Siddaramaiah went on the defensive questioning the morality of the BJP. According to Siddaramaiah, his government has been dealing with the culprits as per law. “The BJP slept over such cases. Did it arrest its MLA who faced rape charges? Did it arrest it MLAs who watched porn clips in the Assembly?” is Siddaramaiah’s counter argument whenever he was questioned about the safety of women in Bangalore. His contentions may sound like tit-for-tat, but the Congress has not realised that it was voted to power because people wanted a change in Karnataka, as they were fed up of the BJP.

On Friday, the state government convened a meeting of the top police officers in the city. But whether the government will respond to the feelings of Bangaloreans or enable the police in continuing their legacy of not being people-friendly is something that needs to be watched.

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