Madhya Pradesh or Maha-Rape Pradesh?

The Shivraj Singh government is unable to control the rising graph of crimes against women in the state

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Rohit Gupta

The data for the most unsafe state for women has been embarrassing Madhya Pradesh since 2014 and 2018 is going the same way. In response to Congress MLA Jitu Patwari’s question in the Assembly, the state government released statistics of crimes against women in the state in the year 2017. A 9.49 per cent increase in rape cases and 37.08 per cent increase in gang rape cases have been recorded in the state.

Along with this, cases of molestation and kidnapping have increased by 12.32 per cent and 24.27 per cent respectively, much to the embarrassment of the BJP government.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) , in 2014, 5076 cases of rape were registered in Madhya Pradesh. After that, 4391 cases were registered in 2015 and 4882 in 2016.

According to the figures released by the government, 15 cases of rape, 25 cases of molestation, 15 cases of kidnapping, 16 cases of cruelty by husband and two cases of dowry torture are being registered every day. One girl falls victim to gang rape in Madhya Pradesh every day.

MP has recorded the highest number of cases of ‘crime against women’ between 2001 and 2013 at 40,422 cases. West Bengal came second in the list with 22472 cases. You can see the huge difference between the top two states. Of these 12 years, BJP has ruled the state for around 10 years.

For 13 out of the last 14 years, there has been an increase in crime statistics against women in the state. Though the numbers came down a bit in 2015, it was still a matter of shame that even then, the state topped the list in crimes against women. These figures make it clear that the BJP government has failed to provide security to women during its 14-year tenure. These figures are enough to expose the hollowness of the government’s so-called pro-women schemes like ‘Laadli Laxmi’, ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padao’ & ‘Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana’. On one hand, the government talks about the development and education of daughters while on the other, it is not even able to give them protection.

There can be many reasons for the increase in crimes against women in the state, the hapless law and order system, weak judiciary and government failure to name a few. However, a look at the court decisions on crimes committed against women in Madhya Pradesh clears the picture.

The courts announced verdicts in 2,199 cases of rape in 2017 in Madhya Pradesh. Out of these, 1765 accused were acquitted. This means that the conviction rate in the cases of rape was just 19.74 per cent and more than 80 per cent of the accused were acquitted. Similarly, in cases of gang rape, only 28.57 per cent of those on trial were punished.

One thing is clear from these figures that the law and order system in the state has completely broken down. The police is neither able to catch the culprits nor they are able to collect the evidence and present witnesses on time. Or are they being forced to file weak chargesheets against the criminals under political pressure?

Political pressure could well be at work in the state to shield perpetrators of crimes against women. One such case has recently surfaced in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Preeti Singh, daughter-in-law of PWD Minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet, Rampal Singh, committed suicide on March 17. Preeti had married Rampal’s younger son, Girijesh. It was a love marriage.

It is alleged that the minister and his wife had refused to accept Preeti as their daughter-in-law and had fixed the marriage of Girijesh elsewhere. A harassed Preeti chose to end her life instead, it is alleged. Preeti’s family has alleged that the state government is pressuring the police administration. Congress state president Arun Yadav and Ajay Singh met the victim’s family and tried to raise the issue in the Assembly but were denied by Speaker Sitasharan Sharma. The Assembly session was adjourned indefinitely due to the ruckus that followed.

The ruling BJP government has its own strange excuses to explain the increase in the number of rape cases in the state. BJP spokespersons and lead2ers have long maintained that MP records most number of rape cases because FIRs are easily registered in the state.

And they have stranger solutions too. BJP MLA from Guna, Pannalal Shakya, said, “Crimes against women were rising in the state because ‘girls kept boyfriends’. Girls should refrain from having boyfriends and atrocities against them will end.”

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