In recent days we have seen thousands of people coming out and protesting on the streets against the government administration, police and judiciary for their refusal to ensure the safety and security of women. Insensitive and callous comments by leaders of various political parties have only added fuel to the fire. They have tried their best to stifle the protests through organizing diversions and by declaring Section 144. The fact is that this 63-year old Indian Republic has failed to protect its women; it has failed to ensure the safety and security of its people.
A 3-member Committee headed by former Chief Justice, J S Verma, has been set up to suggest amendments to criminal laws to deal with sexual assault cases. But there are already enough laws to punish the guilty. Our people have seen through their own eyes that those in powerful positions themselves are perpetrators of crimes against women, and that we cannot depend on them to implement these laws. The government and its institutions – the administration, police, armed forces and judiciary – have been responsible, by commission or omission, for innumerable crimes against women through refusal to file FIRs, installing rapists and murderers as “people’s representatives” in the Parliament and State Assemblies, custodial rapes, military atrocities on women in the north-east, Kashmir and other “disturbed” or “terrorist-infected” areas, the rape and murder of women during state-organised communal and sectarian violence, and the regular rape of tribal, dalit and other women by those in power.
Hundreds of women were raped and thousands of men and women were murdered in cold blood in 1984, 1993 and 2002 by hired thugs of the Congress and BJP. But neither the guilty have been punished nor have laws been made to incorporate the principle of command responsibility, according to which those in command have to be answerable for the crimes of their subordinates.
The complicity of the state and its institutions, as well as the political parties of the establishment in assaulting the lives, dignity and security of women and the broad masses of people, points to the urgent necessity of building defence committees of the people. We need to build such committees in neighbourhoods, mohallas, bastis, schools and colleges, workplaces and villages, and amongst the targeted communities including religious minorities and tribal peoples. We need to build such committees not only to enable people to defend their rights and their lives, but also to actively intervene in setting the political agenda of the country. This is the most substantial and forceful demand that has been expressed by the thousands of people who came out on the streets to protest in recent months. The truth is that only where people have been able to set up their own defense organizations, have they been able to ensure their safety. This has been borne out by our experience, both negative and positive, of the 1984 genocide, the Gujarat genocide, as well as all other cases of attacks of the state on different sections of our people.
The protests over the past few weeks have seen the rise of such committees in the National Capital Region, just as they had earlier arisen in the 1984 period. The ruling circles are terrified when the people actually organise to defend themselves, and are trying their level best to stop this initiative. It challenges their monopoly of power, and opens the path to people asserting and organizing themselves to ensure their security and prosperity. Womens’ organizations, trade unions, student unions, resident welfare associations and other people’s organizations should take the lead in building and strengthening such committees. Such committees should ensure that laws are implemented, that institutions responsible for ensuring the safety and security of people are accountable to the people and that the guilty are punished.
Lok Raj Sangathan, Purogami Mahila Sangathan, and other organizations, invite you to participate in a public meeting on January 27th to discuss the necessity of building and strengthening people’s committees as the way forward in the present situation.
Time: 10.30 Am – 4pm
Venue: Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Institutional Area, near Sai Baba Mandir, New Delhi
Date: Sunday, January 27, 2013
For further information call 9818575435 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit www.lokraj.org.in for updates