An open letter to Hon. PM Shri Narendra Modi on Hathras Case by Poornima Advani, Former Chairperson, NCW
Reformation of the country’s institution to protect the interests of women.
Honourable Shri Narendra Modi Ji,
I was pained to hear the extremely bitter news of the passing away of the 20-year-old victim of the Hathras rape, yesterday morning. The news sent shivers throughout as the country was reminded of the infamous Nirbhaya case of 2012.
I must also take this opportunity to congratulate you for taking cognizance of the seriousness of this case and speaking to the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, calling for the strictest of punishments for the culprits of this heinous offence. This statement reiterates the steps which your Government has committed to for the protection of women in the country and also underlines your passion to send out a loud message that there would be zero tolerance to Crimes against Women. It is extremely rare for the Prime Minister of the country to give personal regard and attention to such crimes. Grateful!
It is the collective responsibility of the Law Enforcement Agencies and civil society to work together in making each and every corner of this country safe for women and work towards improving the capabilities and efficiencies of the public institutions. At this outset, I take the liberty of detailing some specific suggestions in this regard:
- Stricter reprimands and punishments for oversight/negligence/misdemeanours by police officers. Failure to file an FIR, not having the victim examined by a medical professional, failure to collect evidence before cremating the body are all major inexcusable lapses.
- Transparency in procedure followed in disciplinary action against police officers. This must act as a deterrent against future acts of negligence and oversight.
- Inclusion of gender justice and caste justice actions of each officer in their annual confidential reports. Failure to adhere to requirements must hinder the eligibility of an officer to be promoted.
- Regular gender sensitivity training for officers at all levels must be conducted.
- Departmental trainings must be held to increase the efficiency of evidence collection and storage.
- Increased number of forensic laboratories with strengthened facilities.
- Increased awareness of mode and details of contact for women’s protection officer, helpline numbers, and other relevant information.
- Increased number of women officers at police stations and in the investigation of cases involving violence against women.
- Funds must be allocated to improve the technology used to investigate rape cases. The usage of such funds must be transparent.
- Training must be provided to officers to use emerging technology competently in their investigations.
- Fast track trials must be implemented. Despite years of demands from people and setting up commissions, trials continue to take years to conclude, by which time evidence and the strength of the case is often diluted.
Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women