Millennium Post

‘We tried everything to ensure she lives’

In the wake of the recent gang rape in Delhi, what are the measures that the government is taking to ensure that such incidents are not repeated?

We have taken a lot steps to ensure that Delhi becomes a safer place. The spontaneity with which people in Delhi came out to protest against the incident has underlined the fact that there is lack of security for women on the streets. We have come up with two time-bound committees. One will look at the need for stricter laws. The other will review the incident, to reveal what really happened that night – was there laxity on the part of the authorities and what steps can be taken to prevent anything like this from happening in the future.

The protesters had to face tear gas shells and water canons. How will the government explain this?

Me and my whole government is united in support of the cause of the people who were expressing their angst over the incident. That is why we have taken strong steps to ensure that the city be made a safer place for women. I have apologised many times and once again I apologise to all the innocent protesters who got hurt in police action. But you have to keep things in perspective. I still stay it on record that 99 per cent of the people on the street were peaceful protesters who were venting their anger, their emotions in a peaceful manner. The remaining one per cent led to all the rioting. We even lost a policeman in the violence. There were several police personnel who suffered head injuries. Property were brunt down, cars overturned and barricades broken. That one percent vitiated the atmosphere. I once again apologise to any innocent protester who was hurt in the melee.

Since Delhi police reports to the home ministry how will you ensure that the policing in the city is not lax?

After the incident I took a bus ride at night without letting anybody know of it. I have stated this openly that there were shortcomings in the policing in the city. I spoke to people who were travelling on the bus and can very well understand their angst about the lack of effective policing. That is why I have spoken to ministry officials and my senior minister. We have taken steps which will go a long way in trying to weed out the problems that I saw. I shall continue to undertake such occasional journeys on public buses and transport. I shall also be visiting police stations across the city to get a first-hand feel of and understand what the common citizen goes through.

There are allegations that the victim was shifted to Singapore to draw attention away from the protests?

We shifted the victim to ensure her the best possible treatment available. If we had not shifted her you would have been asking me why didn’t we shift her. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. We sent her to Singapore because we felt that it was the best medical help she could have received, at a place as close to Delhi as possible. We tried everything to ensure that she lives. But unfortunately that did not happen.

Why was such secrecy maintained about performing her last rites?

As far as her last rites are concerned her family was informed. It was the family which decided where the last rites would be held. I was present when her last rites were being performed. They were performed as prescribed by the religion. It was a solemn, sad affair. There was no secrecy, as is being made out.

Don’t you think that crimes such as these are a mindset problem? The way men perceive women is a problem, and the mindset should change?

Well, without negating the responsibility of the government and the police, I think we definitely need to look at the larger perspective. Especially after the number of women who have come out and spoken about their horrifying experiences.

Their experiences have revealed the growing number of men who indulge in eve teasing. This is something we really need to look at. In India morality is taken for granted because 10,000 years ago morality was an important part of the Indian way of life, it was a part of our cultural identity. But it is time I think we should start undertaking moral lessons ourselves because we seem to have forgotten them.
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