The process should start with the errant cops and should include even the home minister or prime minister if they gave the go-ahead to flying the victim down to Singapore in critical condition and inadvertently hastening her death
Shantanu Datta | January 7, 2013
Joke 1: News channels flash ‘breaking news’. Why? Delhi Police arrived on time at a crime scene.
Joke 2: Police would now get training from Domino’s guys in how to arrive at a crime scene within 30 minutes.
Those are the jokes going around on social media soon after Zee News aired an interview with the Delhi gangrape and murder victim’s friend, and prime witness in the case, on Friday evening. But the jokes are not funny, and neither are they attracting funny rejoinders. They are just exasperated, frustrated, angry rebuttals from people.
One admires the alacrity with which the police lodged an FIR against Zee News for “revealing the victim/witness’ identity” — the same level of enthusiasm with which they booked 10 persons for the death of police constable Subhash Tomar during the “violent” protests in the India Gate area.
This promptness is admirable since this zeal is almost out of a crime thriller, a genre Indian police officials are not known to favour in their love for comedy (of both error and terror). It is equally frightening because it smells so much like the action of a police state.
But let us not digress. If Zee News broke the law in airing the interview with the victim’s friend, nothing wrong in filing a case against the channel. But let us not stop with just Zee News. Let us carry forward with zeal and book a few more persons.
1. Probe and identify the police officials in three police control room (PCR) vans who, according to the key witness’ account to Zee, a) arrived way too late at the scene, b) wasted many minutes arguing about jurisdiction of the crime and c) did precious little even later. These cops need to be booked for failure to uphold even basic policing.
2. Book Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar (under mild charges for now) for trying to influence the investigation and case in constable Tomar’s death by holding a media conference and asserting that constable Tomar had “died” even before the details —even the autopsy report, according to his own admission during the conference — were out. The charges against the top cop could be strengthened later on.
3. Book all ministers in the group of ministers who took the decision to fly the victim to Singapore in a critical state for abetment to murder, or hastening her death. Make all doctors who criticised the move witnesses in the case.
4. Book police and the home minister for clamping prohibitory orders under Section 144 of CrPC in and around India Gate. Charge them with inciting violence, leading to the constable’s death and injuries to many protesting youths and policed officials.
5. Like Zee News, charge the victim’s friend who willingly came on air for similar offence — Section 228A says ““whoever prints or publishes the name or any matter which may make known the identity...” is culpable. Indian penal code was written long before news TV came into our lives. Keeping that in mind, even the friend would be as guilty as the channel if revealing the 23-year-old’s identity is deemed a crime.
But before the police do all that, they need to just answer a few questions: So why this elaborate drama to hide his identity? Which law prevents the disclosure of identity of a male victim of a deadly assault? Was he a woman (others might laugh at the stupidity of the question but for Delhi Police it is a serious question)? Or was he a rape victim?
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