Millennium Post

Need to counter societal depravity

The rape of a five-year-old innocent girl by a sex maniac has once again given a cause to the professional agitators to raise their voice and soar sale of candles. Unlike what we witnessed in the recent past, this time the citizens are not united under one flag at a spontaneously accepted venue like Jantar Mantar or the India Gate.

In the current round of agitation, it’s the political parties which have decided to raise the banner and there is a clear division of turf between them – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is agitating in New Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam admi Party (AAP) is stationed outside police headquarters, the Left groups are once again trying to lay siege of India Gate and there is also a motley group outside All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where the victim is undergoing medical treated.

They have different demands from asking to set-up Kangaroo courts to try the rape accused to removal of Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar. In between East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit is constantly reminding people that the original demand for removal of Delhi Police boss was made by him and his mother – chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

Many would now not even recall that in December 2010 an 18-year-old girl was gang-raped in a moving car even as 600-700 policemen tried locating the car in vain. Then Home Minister P Chidambaram, whose then ministry was responsible for maintenance of law and order in the Capital, had said, ‘Migrants are behind such crimes in the Capital. Crime takes place because Delhi attracts a large number of migrants.’

It’s true that there was involvement of migrants inlast year’s 16 December crime and Manoj Sah, the accused in the present case too belongs to Bihar. Even at the risk of being clubbed with Raj Thackeray, it must be said that crime in the metropolitans are largely linked to failure of governance in major states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Migration as an economic and social phenomenon has started to pose several psycho-societal questions. While likes of Chidambaram and Raj Thackeray choose to highlight the crime committed by migrants, the crime committed against them never gets highlighted. Victims in both the 16 December case and the present case too are migrants.

Just a few months prior to 2010 car rape case mentioned above, in a case of the collapse of an unauthorised building in Laxmi Nagar 70 people had died. The structure stood in Lalita Park area of East Delhi, just a stone’s throw from Shakarpur Police Station, not very far from the scene of current minor girl rape case incident. All those who died in the collapse of that ghetto were migrants. The building was owned by a local landlord.

The building of Chowdhary Bhim Singh in Gandhi Nagar, where the five-year-old was raped last week, is not very different from the Lalita Park ghetto both in its structural and social make-up. These areas are the national Capital’s dark alley, it’s under belly.    Celebrated economist Gunnar Myrdal did not live long enough to see his dictum – the poorer the people, the stronger the barrier to migration – proved wrong. The disintegration of governance in the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh started in 1970s and it reached a crescendo following the ousting of Congress in both the states in 1990. Bihar under Lalu Prasad Yadav saw a unique trend where the phenomenon of migration was not limited to a particular economic class; it rather cut through the class barriers.

The arrival of migrants had a direct effect on the Capital’s economy, society and politics. While those from economically stronger background managed to find for themselves benefits of both education and employment; those from poor background were reduced to living life of decadence in the ghettoes of colonies like Laxmi Nagar and Gandhi Nagar.

The attempts by Sheila Dikshit government to ameliorate the social and civic conditions of the migrant population has proved to be counter-productive leading to more people arriving in the city in the search of not just livelihood but a chance for survival. Unable to overcome the problems posed by homeless migrants in the national Capital, Dikshit some months back wrote to Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, demanding that at least Delhi’s neighbouring states – Haryana and Uttar Pradesh – should build shelters on the border to accommodate the homeless from these states. Dikshit, in her letter had termed them as north India’s ‘misery states’.

‘Delhi Urban Shelter Development Board presently runs 132 Rain Basera (night shelters) in different part of Delhi, in which more than 50,000 people are living and they are using Delhi’s resources like food and water. The rest of the homeless people are residing under different flyovers. It’s not possible to bear unwarranted burden,’ Dikshit wrote to the Centre.

In addition to the homeless living in night shelters and finding home under the flyovers, there are urban labourers living in the ghettoes bereft of any education or social and cultural grooming which could save them from committing crimes like Manoj and his accomplice Pradeep committed.

What’s the way out? Certainly the solution doesn’t lie in asking for the scalp of a Police Commissioner, though there is a strong case for bringing the Delhi Police under the elected government than keeping it accountable only to a body of bureaucrats. For once Prime Minister Manmohan Singh looks to have his ears to the ground. On Sunday he said, ‘the gruesome assault on a little child reminds us of the need to work collectively to root out this sort of depravity.’ What initiatives – both long term and short term – the government would take, Singh has to spell out.

Sidharth Mishra is with Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting Editor,
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