Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh continued to get VIP treatment from Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar government in prison
He was provided with an air-conditioned room in the prison near Rohtak town, around 70 km from Delhi
Even after being taken into custody, he was shown full respect by a section of officers instead of being treated like a convicted criminal
August 26, 2017: Convicted of rape and criminal intimidation on two counts, Dera chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh continued to get VIP treatment from Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar government in prison.
The Dera Sacha Sauda chief, according to police sources, was provided with an air-conditioned room in the prison near Rohtak town, around 70 km from Delhi.
“From arranging a special helicopter to providing an air-conditioned room and helping in using facilities meant for police officers, the Khattar government is extending all help to the lawfully disgraced Dera chief even after his conviction in such a serious crime as rape. This is appalling,” a police source, who saw some of these things happen on Friday and Saturday, told IANS.
A woman, Honeypreet, whom the Dera website describes as his daughter (not real daughter), was allowed to accompany him along with bags and suitcases when Ram Rahim, after being taken into custody was flown in a specially arranged helicopter from the police lines complex in Panchkula.
Even after being taken into custody, the Dera chief was shown full respect by a section of officers instead of being treated like a convicted criminal.
“A couple of senior officers, who tried to take the Dera chief to task and treat him like any other criminal after his conviction were physically assaulted by his (sect chief’s) security.
“One senior officer was slapped and other one was pushed in the presence of other top officers. The Haryana Police had to detain his security for some time to take him into its custody following the conviction,” the police officer said.
The sect chief had openly announced support for the BJP in the 2014 elections. Millions of his followers in the region voted as per his diktat. He even went to cast his own vote.
The BJP, for the first time, came to power in Haryana on its own in the October 2014 assembly elections.
Panchkula town, adjoining here, where the CBI court announced the sect chief guilty, bore the brunt of the violence on Friday and resembled a war zone with scores of burnt vehicles and properties damaged or torched.
CBI special judge Jagdeep Singh held the Dera sect leader, who has lakhs of followers mainly in Punjab and Haryana, guilty of raping and sexually exploiting two female disciples in 2002.
The self-styled godman is used to a life of ultra luxury and ostentatious public appearances. (IANS)
You read with a mixture of alarm and scepticism, the poll report by the London-based Thomson Reuters Foundation that India is the most dangerous country in the world for women, beating Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
According to reports, a total of 548 global experts on women’s issues — 43 of them from India — were asked about risks faced by women in six areas: healthcare, access to economic resources and discrimination, customary practices, sexual violence, nonsexual violence, and human trafficking. And shockingly, India comes out as the worst!
We see women progressing in every field in India, but, there is also the increasing violence against women and young girls reported every day; not long ago, female tourists felt safe in India; but now, women travelling solo are constantly targeted. Everyday there are reports of the rapes and murders of minor girls, often accompanied by unimaginable torture and mutilation.
There has been outrage in India, and also holes punctured in the survey that has such a small number of respondents, but can we really take an ostrich approach to the condition of women? Even as education and healthcare improve for women — at least in metro cities — the contempt for women is socially and culturally ingrained in the Indian psyche. In a city like Mumbai considered progressive and relatively safe for women, the girl child is unwanted even by many educated and wealthy families. In spite of laws being in place, female foeticide and infanticide is rampant, to the extent that there are large territories where there are no girl children and brides for the men have to be ‘imported’ from other states. As dowry murders and rapes rise, the more unwanted the girl child becomes. The fact is that India’s gender ratio is deplorable.
And if the male child is valued over the girl child, he grows up believing that he is special and if he is thwarted in any way, he can resort to violence. In spite of education and exposure to progressive ideas, in the case of rape or sexual violence, the tendency to blame and shame the victim persists.
To give just one small example, in the West, accusations of sexual harassment resulted in united shunning of a man as powerful as Harvey Weinstein and many others in the wake of the #MeToo movement, that helped many women speak out about their experiences.
In India, Malayalam actor Dileep, who has been accused in the abduction and rape of an actress, and was boycotted by the Association of Malayalam Movie Artistes (AMMA), was recently reinstated. This caused shock and dismay among women in the film industry.
A statement by a group of over 150 women film practitioners says it like it is, “A body that is meant to represent artistes of the Malayalam movie industry showed complete disregard for its own member who is the victim of this gross crime. Even before the case has reached its conclusion, AMMA has chosen to validate a person accused of a very serious crime against a colleague. We condemn this cavalier attitude by artistes against women artistes who are working alongside them. There is misogyny and gender discrimination embedded in this action.
“We admired and supported the Women in Cinema Collective that was formed by women film artistes in Kerala in the aftermath of the abduction and molestation of a colleague, a top star in the industry. We applaud the WCC members who have walked out of AMMA to protest the chairman’s invitation to reinstate the accused. We pledge our continued support to the Women in Cinema Collective who are blazing a trail to battle sexism in the film industry.
“Cinema is an art form that can challenge deeply entrenched violence and discrimination in society. It is distressing to see an industry that stands amongst the best in the country and has even made a mark in world cinema choose to shy away from using their position and their medium responsibly at this important moment. Today, women form a significant part of the film and media industries, we reject any attempt at silencing us and making us invisible.”
The preference for male children has had some unexpected ramifications. In a working paper published by the American non-profit, National Bureau of Economic Research, by Northwestern University’s Seema Jayachandran and Harvard University’s Rohini Pande (quoted in Quartz Media), finds that stunting in Indian children could also be blamed on the cultural preference for sons.
“In India, on average, the first child — if he is a son — doesn’t suffer from stunting. But, if the first — and so the eldest — child of the family is a girl, she suffers from a height deficit. And, then, if the second child is a boy, and hence the eldest son of the family, he will not be stunted. This happens because of an unequal allocation of resources to the first child”.
According to the report, “When Jayachandran and Pande compared India and Africa results through this lens, they found that the Indian first and eldest son tends to be taller than an African firstborn. If the eldest child of the family is a girl, and a son is born next, the son will still be taller in India than Africa. For girls, however, the India-Africa height deficit is large. It is the largest for daughters with no older brothers, probably because repeated attempts to have a son takes a beating on the growth of the girls.”
In spite of all the Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao rhetoric, the required shift in the male-centric attitude towards a more egalitarian one is simply not happening; or, it is a case of one step forward, two steps backward. The Thomson Reuters Foundation report may be unfair and skewed, but being known as the rape capital of the world does nothing to improve the image of India in the world or even in its own eyes. (IANS)