Accuses Home Minister Chidambaram of displaying “great insensitivity”
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has accused the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) of not addressing the issue of crimes against women, saying it was not on the ruling alliance’s priority list.
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat has said the UPA, which has been in power for the last eight years, has made no efforts to amend and enact tougher laws pertaining to crimes against women, particularly the law (Section 354 of IPC), which deals with cases of molestation such as the one that happened in Guwahati.
“...I think, [Home Minister P. Chidambaram] on many occasions has displayed great insensitivity to the different kinds of crimes that women face. And I believe that for example, the whole issue of honour killings, Chidambaram does not seem to think we need a standalone law for that,” Ms. Karat told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme.
‘Tougher laws needed’
She said there was a consensus across Parliament on the need for tougher laws “but the Home Minister doesn’t think so” because of vote-bank politics.
“...Because this so-called khap panchayats produce votes where they need them. Why is there delay in laws against honour crime? What is the reason?” she asked.
The CPI(M) leader said the government “has to express regret” as to why it had delayed bringing so many legislation pertaining to women.
“There is no political agenda which addresses this as a priority...it is not on the priority list of the UPA government. That is the truth and that is how facts speak. All legislation for women are in cold storage today,” Ms. Karat said.
She also said the National Commission for Women (NCW) has to take a fresh look at its mandate and play a much more pro-active role. “I am disappointed with its functioning. There is no doubt about this. It must play a much more proactive role.”
On NCW chairperson Mamata Sharma, who has come under criticism for her alleged comment that young girls should be careful about what they wear, Ms. Karat said: “If she has said it, then it is completely outrageous and she has no business to be heading that commission. But I don’t know she said it because she has made a very categorical denial. And I would prefer to take her line at face value.”
Asked about Congress leader Alka Lamba, who was removed from a fact-finding team of the NCW for making public the Guwahati molestation victim's identity, Ms. Karat said such inquiries should not be outsourced.
Only NCW mandated
“An inquiry like this must be done by senior members of the NCW who are accountable. Because NCW members have a mandate,” she said.
Noting that a crime against women is committed every three minutes in India, Ms. Karat said: “India is not safe for young women today.”
Asked why women holding top positions, including President Pratibha Patil, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, have not reacted to the Guwahati incident, she said “you will have to ask them.”
She, however, added that they were supposed to help set a political agenda on the issue.
She attacked the Guwahati police for its “criminal negligence” in the molestation case and said the State “DGP should be sent back to training school.”
The CPI(M) leader also suggested that the culprits of the Guwahati incident “need to be taught strong lessons by subjecting them to jail terms and social disapproval, if not boycott.”
Is it for high TRP?
Urging the media to be more careful in handling such issues, Ms. Karat said, “it is a shame” if the media had done this for a “good story” to get high TRP.