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A month on, Police fail to arrest killer driver of Lucknow’s hit and run case of Dolly Srivastava

Hit and run cases are very common in India and very few states seem to have taken it seriously

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The vehicle (as seen in this picture) came on the wrong side and hit Dolly Srivastava, who was standing near her home, and fled away. She succumbed to her injuries on the spot. According to the sources, it is a CNG vehicle that still must be plying on Lucknow's roads with impunity. The reckless driver is yet to be arrested.
  • Dolly Srivastava, a resident of Lucknow, passed away on June 16,2016 after being hit by a speeding vehicle
  • FIR had been launched against the unknown violators, immediately
  • Till now, no fruitful action has been taken by the authorities to find and arrest the killers of Dolly Srivastava

Dolly Srivastava, 55, a resident of Lucknow’s tony residential locality, Gomti Nagar, lost her life after being hit by a speeding small goods carrier near her home on June 16, 2016. It has been a month since the fatal accident, but thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the local police, the killer vehicle, and its reckless driver are still at large.

According to the eyewitnesses, she was standing close to her residence gate in the morning when the vehicle, that was loaded with empty vegetable trays, came on the wrong side, hit and ran away. The victim was grievously injured in the mishap and succumbed to her injuries on the spot. A FIR under Sections 279 and 304A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, against unknown persons, was lodged at the Gomti Nagar police station.

Kishore and Dolly Srivastava
In this picture, Dolly Srivastava is seen with her husband NC Kishore Srivastava

In a state which witnessed the maximum number of road deaths (17,666) last year, one may expect the authorities to act firmly to curb the menace of rash and negligent driving on its streets, roads, and highways, and arrest the one responsible for such road crash deaths. But the high numbers of such fatalities only prove the point that it doesn’t. Even in this case, there has been no trace of effort on the police’s part whatsoever to bring the culprits to book.

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A page from the First Information Report (F.I.R.)

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A page from the First Information Report (F.I.R.)

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A page from the First Information Report (F.I.R.)

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A page from the First Information Report (F.I.R.)

NC Kishore Srivastava, the deceased woman’s husband, has been running from pillar to post since then to get the police into action. First, Srivastava and his family procured the CCTV footage from the school opposite his residence, which relented to share it after a lot of persuasions. “If the police had intervened, it would have been easier to lay hands on many such important pieces of evidence,” said a family member. From then on, he has done everything possible to hunt for the killer vehicle and its driver.”
The police, meanwhile, hasn’t shown a proactive interest in the case. As it is a common man who lost her life, with no high-flying contacts, the police seems to be least bothered,” said Smriti Trivedi, a neighbour of the Srivastavas.
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It has been Srivastava who has been suggesting them crucial leads in a hope that the police being the law-keeper would be able to bring the killer to book. He shared the CCTV footage with the police to ascertain the number plate of the said vehicle from the forensic lab. Unfortunately, the number provided by the lab and the vehicle caught by the police didn’t match; the colour of the vehicle nabbed by the police was green while the one as shown in the footage was creme and green. He then requested the police to interrogate local vendors of the nearby wholesale vegetable and fruits markets, and even provided a list of such small goods carriers procured by him from the Regional Transport Office, and a list of CNG run vehicles from the makers, JSA, who are based in Kanpur. “But nothing has happened as far as the interrogation of the shortlisted vehicle owners and vegetable vendors are concerned. I am calling the police officers daily to know the progress in the case. But it has been a futile exercise so far. If the police had launched a serious manhunt based on these leads, the culprit would have surely been behind bars by now,” said Srivastava, dejected with the tardy pace of police investigation.

Another neighbour raised a pertinent question: “If ordinary citizens have to do what the police is supposed to be doing, then what good does it serve to have them around us in the first place?” Even after so much being handed over to them to make their task of investigation easier, the police has chosen to stay indifferent to the family’s plea to arrest the reckless driver and confiscate his vehicle, fearing that both must be moving on the city’s roads with impunity.

The family is bereaved at the untimely loss of a dear one and feels that if the authorities do not act promptly and swiftly to arrest the culprit, God forbid, he may hit another person and still stay scot-free.

The other concern raised by Srivastava include bringing back speed breakers as mandated by the law in the residential areas. “It may to some extent check speed limits of vehicles and, in turn, reduce road crash tragedies in residential areas,” he said.

An invaluable piece of advice: If the state government is serious about curbing the fatalities on its roads, streets, and highways, it must take act now to show that it cares for its people. The state government, its traffic police, and state transport department should take a cue from the West Bengal government that has launched the “Safe Drive, Save Life” campaign with a focus on saving lives on the road by maintaining road culture, sensible driving, road safety, and caring for all road users.

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Chennai Police Department Makes 19 Year Old Boy with Down Syndrome Police Officer for a Day

Sometimes from a small seed, greatness grows. And despite all odds, the 19-year-old Stevin is a testament to this

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'Sub Inspector' Stevin Mathew on patrol. The Hindu

Chennai, September 28, 2017 : Throughout his childhood, Stevin had just one, very simple wish.

He had longed to be a police officer. His parents claim Stevin grew up uttering “I am police, I am police” as he saw his favorite actors perform the role of a uniform-clad officer in multiple films.

Sadly though, being born with a disability meant that this wish was nothing short of a fantasy.

Doctors had long identified that a young Stevin Mathew was suffering from Down syndrome, a genetic disorder of chromosome 21 that causes developmental and intellectual delays. While the condition can be supervised with treatment, it cannot be completely cured.

For many children, being born with special conditions often means giving up on their dreams. However, we increasingly forget why they are called ‘special’ in the very first place.

Stevin Mathew’s story has been special, too.

Originally hailing from Chennai, the family is currently settled in Qatar. But it was only during a recent trip to Chennai that Stevin’s father Rajeev Thomas approached the commissioner of Chennai police, making a special request to allow his son to wear the prestigious khaki uniform for a day.

ALSO READ How Children with special needs found place in Mumbai Classrooms!

In a gesture of goodwill, Commissioner A.K. Vishwanathan agreed to help young Stevin realize his dream of becoming a police officer. Consequently, Chennai’s Assistant Commissioner Vincent Jayaraj and Inspector Suryalingam visited Stevin at his Chennai dwelling and made the fundamental arrangements for action.

A customized uniform with two stars glittering on the shoulder badge was stitched for Stevin, keeping all necessary details in mind.

“He was fascinated by the police after watching his favorite stars Suresh Gopi, Vijay, and others. He always wanted to become a police officer. So I decided to write a mail to the commissioner when we came to Chennai for a vacation”
                                          – Rajeev Thomas, Stevin’s father 

Welcomed with bouquets at the Ashok Nagar police station, the 19-year sub-inspector assumed position for an hour and was also given his own desk and briefed about the tasks undertaken for crime prevention in order completely experience an officer’s life.

Armed with a walkie-talkie and an agenda, Stevin attended phone calls and also set out on patrol duty in a police jeep along with two other constables.

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Stevin tending to his duties as a sub-inspector. Deccan Chronicle

A bright 19-year old boy, Stevin is a Diploma-holder in Computer Applications and has never let circumstances decide the course of his life.

Stevin’s parents, Rajeev and Ciby Mathew run a special school for children called HOPE Qatar in Doha and believe that special children should be given equal opportunities to help include them into the mainstream society.

Commissioner A.K. Vishwanathan and the Chennai Police department must also be acknowledged for setting an example and motivating children to dream despite all hardships.

Sometimes from a small seed, greatness grows. And despite all odds, the 19-year-old Stevin is a testament to this.

 

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What Gives Husbands The Licence to Rape? Decoding Marital Rape in the Indian Legal Scenario

Can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman?

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Marital rape
While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India. Pixabay
  • Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence
  • Marital rape is yet to be categorized as a criminal offence in India
  • According to the central government, criminalizing marital rape “may destabilize the institution of marriage”

New Delhi, September 2, 2017 : Baby works as a domestic help; she says she cannot recall her age when her parents married her off to a man who was much older to her; a man she barely knew. She didn’t anticipate her husband would demand to have intercourse on their wedding night. She was still young and not ready, but that didn’t stop him. Baby was raped by her husband on her wedding night. But marital rape means nothing to her.

Sunita irons clothes for a living. She says has been married for more years than she can remember. The duo has four kids together, but that doesn’t stop her husband from raising a hand or two on her, every once in a while. Every night, her husband would get drunk, hit her and forcefully demand to have sex, paying no heed to her resistance. Sunita has three daughters, and a son, and the husband still wants to have progenies. “I told my mother that this man has raped me multiple times. She protested, arguing that he is ‘your husband’ after all,” she said.

But did she never decide to approach the authorities?

To this, Sunita promptly replied, “I once had a sore eye after he (the husband) hit me with his shoe when I refused to have sex. I went to the local hospital and then the police. I narrated the entire scene; they were very considerate, offered me water and then asked me to go home and ‘adjust’.”

Sunita is unaware of a term called ‘marital rape’.

This is the reality of a huge part of the society in real India.

Like Baby and Sunita, women who suffer such indignities are often asked to “adjust” with perpetrators of violence because of a deep –embedded fear of what the society would say. This notion of an ‘ideal woman’ impedes women to object to illicit treatment meted out by their ‘better halves’.

The debate around the issue has become ripe once again with the Central Government stating that what “may appear to be marital rape” to a wife “may not appear so to others”. In an affidavit to the Delhi High Court, the central government took a stand against criminalizing marital rape saying that it “may destabilize the institution of marriage” and also become easy tool for harass the husbands and the in-laws.

Rape v/s Marital Rape

Rape is defined in Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, but with an irregularity: “Sexual intercourse or sexual acts by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.”

While rape is addressed as perforation without a woman’s accord in its main clause, the only remedy to forced intercourse provided to ‘married’ woman is specified under Section 498-A of the IPC and the civil provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestiic Violence Act.

Following the horrific 2012 Nirbhaya rape case that brought the entire world to a standstill, the Indian media has given paramount coverage to instances of rape across the country. But even after 5 years of the gut-wrenching incident, there seems no end to this crime.

ALSO READ The Hardships of Sexuality: Marital rape, violence and humiliation

Cases of sexual violence, including rape, fall within the larger realm of domestic violence. However, rape by husbands within holy matrimony continues to remain an obscure subject in India and the exact number of cases is hard to gauge.

According to a 2015 report by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) tracing the proximity of offenders to the victims of sexual violence, it was revealed that in 95 per cent of all rapes, the offenders were familiar to the survivors. These, presumably include acquaintances, friends, relatives and colleagues.

And what about rape committed by husbands?

These cases continue to be an under-reported crime in India. This can be attributed to two major reasons,

  • Because of the stigma associated with it
  • Because of the presence of a defunct justice system

Furthermore, more often than not, these cases go missing because of several additional (and unnecessary) barriers stemming from a combination of familial and/or social power structures, shame and dependency.

Marital Rape In India

While most of the developed world has penalized marital rape, surprisingly it is yet to be categorized as an offence in India.

A United Nations’ report titled ‘Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it?’ published in 2013 disclosed that nearly a quarter of 10,000 men  in Asia-Pacific region, including India, admitted to have indulged in the rape of a female partner. The report traced their rationale to a deep-embedded belief that they are entitled to sex despite the consent of their partners.

The study also revealed that the majority of these instances were not reported and the perpetrators faced no legal consequences.

In 2014, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in association with International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) brought out a report titled ‘Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India’. Among other things, the report analyzed the average Indian male’s understanding and interpretation of the idea of ‘masculinity’ and how that molds their interactions with women.

Not surprisingly, the study revealed that a typical man in the Indian society associated the attributes ‘tough’, and ‘controlling’ with masculinity.

Segments of the present day Indian society continue to look at men as tough forces, who can (must) freely exercise their privilege to establish rule in personal relationships and above all, continue to control women.

Additionally, the study also revealed that 60 per cent of the Indian men disclosed the use of physical violence to establish authority.

In India, stiff patriarchal norms continue to tilt the gender balance firmly in the favor of men, as a result of which, women are forced to internalize male dominance in their lives.

Marital Rape in India : A Legal Perspective

Section 375 essentially distinguishes between two categories of women

  • Married women
  • Unmarried women

Much to the Indian society’s disappointment, the Indian legal system denies protection from rape to the married woman. This creates discrimination as the women belonging to one section are denied justice merely by virtue of being married.

But can there be two different definitions of rape? Can there be a differentiation between the rape of a married woman and the rape of an unmarried woman? Is it justified to discriminate a woman just because she is married to the man who has raped her?

The Debate Around Marital Rape In India

Despite the piquant situation, the issue raised furor when Minister of State for Home, Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told the Parliament that the question of criminalizing marital rape in India has no relevance “as marriage is treated as sacred here.”

Does marriage being a sacrament provide one with the legal right to rape a woman?

South Asia director at Human Rights Watch Meenakshi Ganguly had retaliated saying that it is particularly concerning when a government that claims to secure the safety of women inside and outside national territory shamelessly turn to justify a crime in the name of culture and tradition.

Group director of social and economic development at the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) Priya Nanda asserted in an interview with a leading portal that “the reason men don’t want to criminalize marital rape is because they don’t want to give a woman the power to say no.”

In 2013, a three-member commission headed by Justice J.S. Verma suggested remedial measures to combat sexual violence in India, following the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case. One of its recommendations was the criminalization of marital rape.

ALSO READ Reasons Why Marital Rape Should Be Recognised as a Criminal Offence

The recommendation was ignored by the government as a large amount of people questioned its efficiency saying if made a crime,

  • It might be misused by people
  • It will be difficult to prove
  • It might break up marriages

But, how fair is it to not have a law against marital rape, only because of the reason that it is ‘difficult to prove’?

In a broader understanding, it needs to be understood that the criminalization of marital rape must not be viewed as a step against men or the institution of matrimony, but as an attempt to demolish the patriarchal system that continues to clutch the Indian society.


 

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Indonesia’s War on Drugs Follows Philippines’ Infamous Crusade to Curb Drug Use

Indonesia's Drug War by President Joko Widodo follows Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte way

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An Indonesian policeman checks crystal methamphetamine from China after a raid at Anyer beach in Serang, Banten province, Indonesia
An Indonesian policeman checks crystal methamphetamine from China after a raid at Anyer beach in Serang, Banten province, Indonesia. VOA
  • Idham Azis said he would not think twice to discharge police officers who were indecisive against drug trafficking
  • Human Rights Watch official Phelim Kline criticized the move

Indonesian president Joko “Jokowi” Widodo is once again using the language of “emergency” to ramp up the country’s war on drugs, in a move that seems in step with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s infamous crusade in a neighboring island country.

Widodo recently ordered police to shoot foreign drug dealers who “resist arrest,” claiming the country was in a “narcotics emergency position.” Then, the Ministry of Law and Human Rights announced a plan to consolidate drug felons in four prisons. On Tuesday, Jakarta police chief Gen. Idham Azis said he would “not think twice” to discharge police officers who were indecisive against drug trafficking.

Widodo’s speech last week came on the heels of a drug-related police shooting in Jakarta, targeting a Taiwanese man who resisted arrest while trying to smuggle one ton of crystal methamphetamine into Indonesia.

Human Rights Watch official Phelim Kline criticized the move, writing in a statement that, “President Joko Widodo should send a clear and public message to the police that efforts to address the complex problems of drugs and criminality require the security forces to respect everyone’s basic rights, not demolish them.”

Meth panic

The target of President Duterte’s drug war is the cheap crystal methamphetamine known locally as shabu, and it is also the subject of Indonesian hand-wringing. The ton seized last month was the largest drug seizure in the nation’s history.

ALSO READ: What is the relation between Religion and Drug use?

The head of Indonesia’s narcotics agency, Gen. Budi Waseso, has been calling for a Philippines-style war on drugs as early as September 2016.

“The market that existed in the Philippines is moving to Indonesia, the impact of President Duterte’s actions is an exodus to Indonesia, including the substance,” Budi told Australia’s ABC News.

Indonesia enforces capital punishment for drug trafficking, which makes it an offense on par with murder and terrorism. It is estimated that about 70 percent of Indonesia’s prison population are low-level drug offenders.

“For me, there is a question mark over President Jokowi’s narcotics policy,” said Erasmus Napitupulu of Jakarta’s Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. “He always talks about the death penalty as a way to protect the nation’s children.” But in fact, he said, “the death penalty targets small drug couriers, which in many cases leads to unfair trials. Indonesian law has not been able to bear the burden of a fair trial,” he said.

Calls for leniency

“Of course we are concerned with the president’s rhetoric … to justify the war on drugs,” said Edo Nasution, national coordinator of the nonprofit Solidarity for Indonesian Drug Victims.

“Evidence-based drug policy is what we need, not a policy that is only based on moral values or ideology,” said Edo, a one-time drug user who spent 13 years in Indonesian jails. “For example, there has been harm reduction programs in Indonesia for a long time and there is much scientific evidence as to the success of this approach.”

Harm-reduction refers to the practice of managing the risks of drug use, such as providing sterile needles, rather than trying to eradicate drug use.

Southeast Asia has long resisted trends toward leniency for drug users or traffickers, with countries like Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines resolutely maintaining harsh penalties that they say deters a major societal problem. As of last year, Thailand seemed like it might rethink the criminalization of methamphetamine because of overcrowded prisons, but there are no such signs in Indonesia.

Widodo’s last big anti-drug push was in 2015, two months after he was sworn into office when he executed 14 people for drug offenses.

“Far from having a deterrent effect, the number of drug-related crimes in Indonesia increased in the months after the executions were carried out in January and April 2015,” according to Claudia Stoicescu, an Oxford University researcher.

The increased resources devoted to drug-related arrests have drawn money away from rehabilitation centers that some say would better serve Indonesia’s nearly 1 million (according to the National Narcotics Agency) drug addicts. In the absence of such treatment, many poor addicts are turning to dubious herbal and faith-based cures that do nothing at best.

Erasmus wishes Indonesia would learn from the experience of the United States, which has gradually softened its approach to marijuana.

“American narcotics policy that criminally prosecuted drug users failed even without the death penalty. The result? The U.S. gradually changed the direction of policy toward decriminalization [of marijuana],” he said. “If Indonesia retains capital punishment as the main solution for drug issues, then I believe it is a political decision to preserve [politicians’] image, not to protect actual narcotics victims.” (VOA)