The gang-rape and the subsequent protests in the national capital have had their impact in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, with various political and social organisations, government-run institutions and individuals launching initiatives at their own level.
A lawyer in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, H.C. Arora has sent a notice to the Punjab Chief Secretary, seeking immediate removal of all provisions in the rules that allowed premature release of persons convicted for rape as well as for murder-rape. He would file a public interest litigation (PIL) petition in case the provisions of the official circular of August 2011, which did not accept “mere rape” to be a “heinous crime,” were not withdrawn.
In Rohtak, activists of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) of the Haryana unit seized pornographic material from a cinema house running close to the residence of Chief Minister Bhuinder Singh Hooda. The protesters blackened the nude posters in the cinema and en route as they marched to the Deputy Commissioner’s Office and handed over the seized material. The organisation’s national vice president Jagmati Sangwan said the AIDWA would continue its campaign against indecent depiction of a woman’s body, which she felt was one of the main reasons for high incidence of rape and sexual harassment of women.
‘Map the black spots’
In its recommendation to the State government, the Punjab Governance Reforms Commission (PGRC) has suggested the need to map the “black spots” in every city prone to crimes against women. These spots should immediately be put under round-the-clock electronic surveillance as well as heightened vigil through extra patrolling. While all vehicles, including those run by private operators should have a general packet radio service (GPRS) and the global positioning system (GPS), only radio taxies should be allowed to ply.
The Commission has sought activation of community-police oversights and launching of awareness to exert pressure and discourage anti-social elements from indulging in crimes against women. It underscored the need to set up at least seven fast track courts that dealt only with crimes against women, while the police officers need to be made more accountable as well as equipped with the latest technology for efficient investigation leading to better conviction rates in such cases, Commission chairman Pramod Kumar told The Hindu.
‘Stop incentives for accused’
As deterrence, the PGRC proposed that the accused in rape and sexual harassment cases should be denied all state incentives till acquittal. These should include suspension of various verification like character and residence, no objection to travel abroad, income or caste certificates leading to issuance of driving licences or other documents including passport. To check sexual harassment, each educational institution, government department and private enterprise should be mandated to implement “Model Gender Code of Conduct,” which would be prepared in consultation with various stakeholders.
Stung by the recent killing of ASI Ravinderpal Singh, a Patiala-based NGO, Punjab Today Foundation has launched a Society’s Movement Against Street Harassment campaign to generate social awareness on crimes against women. Its chief Kanwar Manjit Singh claimed that the drive, aimed at generating “zero tolerance” to harassment and crimes against women, has been well received. The foundation’s marches in Amritsar, Batala and Patiala in the last three days have resulted in 10,000 signatures by citizens.