Our state, Madhya Pradesh has achieved new heights in excellence in administration. On 17th March newspapers brought happy tidings for the chief minister who appears to be a favourite of the PM. The vernacular press headlines screamed that MP recorded during the last one year as many as 5310 crimes against women - highest ever recorded in any state in the country. Besides, the paper reported that as many as 5 molestation cases were recorded in Bhopal during the preceding 24 hours even as three molesters were being shamed by parading them through the streets when women fearlessly went up to them to give them a hiding.
Crimes against women seem to have become routine. One opens newspapers and finds the city pages full of reports of rapes, molestations and suicide by girls who either were raped or persistently molested. While school and college-going girls are routinely molested in broad daylight those who go to late evening coaching classes or are held up at their offices have the worst of it. Worse, even the minors and infants are not spared by these brutes.
Some of the most heinous kinds of rape cases have taken place in the city but there seems to have been hardly any initiative on the part of the local administration. For some time after an incident policemen become active and take some cosmetic measures as is happening currently but soon they fall back into the same inertia. Many a life of young intelligent girl aspiring to achieve something in life was cut short by the increasingly bold and fearless molesters of the town. Fear of law and its supposedly long arm – the police – appears to have evaporated.
For long for crimes against them politicians have been blaming the girls for their outfits – brief or otherwise. All the time they refrained from blaming the police whose cover of sensitive areas has disappeared apparently because of a conscious decision to give up the beat policing system. While the so called VIPs are guarded 24X7 by batteries of policemen common men and women have literally been left unprotected against the wolves prowling the streets. It is probably to deflect attacks on these well-guarded politicians for their overprotective layers of policemen that girls/women were being blamed for attacks on them for their provocative attires or conduct. Politicians have cornered the lion’s share of scarce police resources even as the police population-ratio in the state has progressively become dismal.
Only this morning (18th March) the Times of India in a news headline said “MP grapples with shortage of cops, higher crime rate”. The story below it said the state has a crime rate higher than the national average and numerous vacant posts of police personnel against the sanctioned strength. It quoted from a report of the Bureau of Police Research that said that the state’s crime rate in 2015 was 338 per lakh population against the national average of 234 per lakh population. At the same time, the Bureau said that the state has a sanctioned strength of 1,15,756 of policemen in January 2017 but the actual strength was 98,466 – more than 17,000 short.
The short manpower has converted maintenance of law and order into more of a joke. Whether in rural or urban areas crime is rampant. Rapes in Jabalpur, Gwalior and other towns are as frequent as in any other town. Rural MP is as unsafe for women as its urban parts. Elsewhere the sand mafia has become so emboldened that it resorts to attempts to killing of forest or police personnel when they try to prevent illegal sand mining. It is anarchy that reigns in the state
The shortage tells heavily on policing all around and especially for providing safety and security to the common man. Since the government has not acted upon the orders of the Supreme Court to make the Police independent of political control, politicians merrily draft policemen mostly in excess of requirements for their own security. No wonder crime is increasing and the criminals have a field day, becoming bolder and fearless by the day. Even if they are nabbed they can be easily bailed out as investigations take time since there are not enough policemen to investigate crimes. No wonder molestations, rape, robbery and murders, especially of senior citizens, are frequent in the state capital as also elsewhere in the state.
Besides, even the policemen are stressed out because of the heavy pressure of work. Suicides in the force are not uncommon. A few months ago even a deputy superintendent took his own life on account the heat he was facing because of the heavy load of work. It is not that the facts are not known to the government but there is a perceptible drift, more so when the assembly elections are creeping closer and closer. None, for the present, including those in the government, is going to do anything substantive to take care of the state’s law and order.
When a non-performing government is fighting for its survival what the people can do is to take measures for their own safety. The vulnerable sections will have to take such precautionary measure as can ensure the safety and security of their life and property.