The capital of Madhya Pradesh is seething with anger and outrage at the latest incident of Nirbhaya-like gang-rape of a 19 years old civil service aspirant a few days ago. The victim was returning from her coaching classes and was to take a train to her home town 70 kms away from the local Habibganj Station when she was waylaid by a few ruffians and was raped by as many as six hoodlums late in the evening. On top of this the cops displayed utter lack of sensitivity tossing the victim’s family from one police station to another although the victim’s parents are also cop. They, for a long while, could not decide the matter of jurisdiction of the specific police station that, according to them, could entertain the complaint. In the process, several cops even took the victim’s version of her rape as a “filmy” story apart from making some pretty uncomplimentary comments against her.
Bhopal is a town where women are utterly unsafe. Reports appear in the local newspapers with unceasing regularity about rapes, molestations, stalking and sexual assaults on women. Even as the Police were investigating the latest case of gang rape another was been reported where two brothers were raping an abducted 23-year old for more than a month. And yet, the police force has made no attempts to curb the incidence of such incidents. Rapes continue to occur and they are highlighted almost every day in the newspapers. In fact, readers every morning are confronted with mostly negative news about the town. Whether it is rape or assault on women or violence against them or even robberies, loots and murders, the reports appear with uncanny regularity and yet local police seem to be unable to stem the rot. Though it is the seat of the state government, it appears to prefer to remain a mute witness of the goings-on in the state capital.
Likewise, deaths due to road accidents are so frequent that it has started ringing alarm bells. A huge number of bikers, mostly engineering students, have met their end in the highly disorganized and unmanaged traffic of the city. Year after year people are getting into accidents resulting in grievous injuries and death but no remedial measures are ever taken. The traffic police is more interested in making people wear helmets but seemingly are uninterested in regularizing and systematically controlling the unruly traffic. Traffic rules are seldom obeyed and one mostly finds that vehicles try and get across any which way ignoring the rules of the roads
Even the city roads, broken down and decrepit as they are, account for a number of accidents. Open manholes, unrepaired broken down roads or roads with massive pot-holes have killed numerous unwary commuters. While local newspapers are full of reports on bad city roads the chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, made a statement from Washington that the roads of his state were better than those of Washington. On being confronted, he said he had in mind the Indore Super Corridor created for transport of human organs for transplantation elsewhere. But one doesn’t know what the chief minister had in mind – the surface of the road or other amenities. The Corridor itself has no signage, transportation facilities for commuters to offices that have come up on the Corridor are scarce; even traffic management on it is absent resulting in frequent fatal accidents. In any case, 99% of the roads in the state, including in the capital, are far inferior to the Super Corridor. Surely, such is not the case in Washington. The CM forgot that he was comparing his state with the capital of the most advanced nation in the world and that his comparison would be laughable. It will take more than a lifetime for him to build roads anywhere nears the quality of those in the US.
All through his three terms the Chief Minister has paid little attention to governance. In every sphere where people’s happiness is involved there has been singular absence of governance. Whether it is healthcare, education or civic amenities, people have been made to suffer for want of facilities. The state has the highest rate of infant and post-natal maternal mortality. Yet he wears the pretensions of being a very effective chief minister and has even set up a Department of Happiness to emulate Bhutan’s experiment of spreading happiness. Bhutan’s is an entirely different story which in no way matches up with that of Madhya Pradesh which continues to be a an illiterate and largely unethical backward state. This is regardless of its proclaimed agricultural revolution that was presumably wrought by big farmers as otherwise there wouldn’t be record-breaking numbers of suicides by farmers in the state.
The lackadaisical attitude towards the environment of the capital is reflected by total inaction for conservation of its biggest asset, the Upper Lake and its catchments. While despite commissioning of various projects sewage continues to flow into the Lake, its catchments have been thrown open for construction against all environment norms. His fondness for builders has made him sit on the report of the Centre for Planning & Environmentsl Technology which was commissioned by his government to suggest ways & means for the Lake’s conservation. No wonder the quality of its waters is deteriorating by the day.
And, yet Amit Shah, the BJP General Secretary, publicly declared that he had given the chief minister of MP 100/100 marks (presumably for that D word – development). Shah seems to have glossed over the reports of alleged corruption against the chief minister. From the very first term the case of dumpers has been hounding him; then came the infamous Vyapam scandal in which he was allegedly involved. He or members of his family were allegedly involved in illegal mining of sand from River Narmada. It was also alleged that the Narmada Seva Yatra was organised largely in an attempt to cover the trails of illegal sand mining.
Shah stayed in Bhopal for all of three days and sniffed around, talked to various people, mostly of his own party. But it was widely reported that those who were not the sycophants of the chief minister would not be allowed to meet him. Whether they were eventually able to meet their Party boss or not was, however, not reported. But, strangely what stands out is that Shah couldn’t smell the rot in MP and did not get even a whiff of the alleged cases of corruption against the chief minister. Perhaps he did not have the nose for them. A few issues of local Hindi newspapers would have revealed to him the prevailing state of affairs in the state.
Hence, looks like, people of Madhya Pradesh are condemned to suffer another five years of non-governance, lack of security, corruption and progressive regression under a government which, in all likelihood, is going to be of the same colour in 2019 as the present one. Failure of administration is visible in every sphere.