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Mainstream, Vol XLVIII, No 9, February 20, 2010

Inside Khadi, Khaki and Gabardine

Monday 22 February 2010, by N A Karim

A New Class of Politicians with their White Khadi Jibbas, Police Officers with their Well-starched Uniforms and Bureaucrats in their Neatly Tailored Gabardine Shutcoats together cheerfully Patronise Crime and Corruption in Modern India

Now all, including the political class, are up in arms against the retired Haryana Director General of Police, S.P.S. Rathore, for the crimes he committed nineteen years ago. He could not have gone scot-free then for the rape of a 14-year-old promising tennis-player girl, slapping several false criminal cases and inflicting physical torture on her complaining teenage brother, harassment of her parents and other family members without the protection provided to him by the successive political ruling classes. Now they are all joining the general clamour for the reopening of the whole case and fresh trial of all crimes the then DGP, Rathore, committed solely to absolve themselves of the greater crime they committed by protecting him. It is evident that they had given more than adequate protection to Rathore from their side as he might have been illegally obliging them and extremely useful in serving their several interests. Therefore the responsibility of these khadi-clad politicians should be fixed before all the criminals in khaki are booked. Rathore could not have got the President’s Medal without the recommendation of the ruling political class of that time. Now it is being taken back which also they are applauding. Opportunism seems to have no sense of shame.

There is a large number of police officers and men with Rathore’s criminal propensity who are still at large enjoying full freedom ever ready to help their political masters and share their all kinds of loot of money, sex and other privileges. It was two high-ranking IPS officers who were suspended for enjoying the sumptuous hospitality of a gang of underworld don close to Chota Rajan in a raucous New Year celebration in Mumbai. If there had been upright police officers doing their duty honestly and sincerely, the aged Governor of a State would not have dared to indulge in his wildest sexual fantasy at his very advanced age with three fully naked women at a time. The office of the Governor of the kind in India, about which many of the Founding Fathers were sceptical right from the beginning, has subsequently been generally found to be of no worthwhile purpose. They are mostly white elephants that eat a sizable portion of the state’s revenue.

Ruchika, who was the victim of the sexual assault of the high-ranking police officer, Rathore, was subsequently expelled from her school for no fault of her, merely under pressure from the lecherous man in uniform who molested her. That was the last straw on Ruchira’s back that led to her suicide. The school that summarily expelled a talented tennis-player student to please a criminal police officer is also very much part of the crime. So their role also is to be thoroughly investigated in meting out full justice in this case.

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A chorus of denials from Chief Ministers of all parties of Haryana are rising putting the blame for this cruel episode on their predecessors and the successors absolving themselves of any part or responsibility of this heartless sexual molestation of a promising teenager, Ruchika, and more inhuman methods of destroying the traces of evidence by trying to do away with her young brother who naturally could not bear the tragic end of his sister. The police officer, S.P.S. Rathore, humiliated and tortured the boy and implicated him even in theft cases and warned him that if he cared for his life he should ask his sister to withdraw the case against him. More than the physical injury, the mental hurt the whole family suffered all these years might well be imagined.

Not all, not even the majority of the khadi-clad politicians and khaki-worn police officers, and bureaucrats in their prim jackets, are criminals of this kind. But an increasing trend is visible in all of them to use their power and authority to amass wealth and indulge in all kinds of luxuries that are easily available for those who want. Generally vulnerable sections of society are easy prey of a large number of their exploitation. The unholy alliance among them and their nefarious joint activities are growing with the result most people have become cynical of reforming the system. That S.P.S. Rathore was given only six months simple imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1000 by the trial court taking into consideration his age seems strange. The age of his victim the court seems to have cheerfully overlooked. That the political class, the school authorities and the court treated such a heinous crime in this cavalier manner seems incredible.

All politicians want the police under their absolute control to settle scores with their rivals, enemies and all those who raise threat to the monopoly of their power. That is why the police system in this country remains in the primitive condition in which it was in the old feudal and colonial days. In fact it has degenerated further in so many basic principles of human rights in independent India. There are several reports containing excellent recommendations for modernising the police system. But our political class are dead-set against any reform that will make them independent of their political control. Therefore all those reports remain virtually untouched except for cosmetic tinkerings here and there. The country expects from P. Chidambaram bold initiatives in cleansing the system and making it an effective, modern instrument for maintaining law and order and upholding the rule of law. The timely steps he took to make a few changes in the Cr. P.C. is highly welcome. Now every complaint will be registered as the Fist Information Report (FIR); this is a guarantee the complaint will be attended to unlike in the case of Ruchika. In a country where Home Ministers are themselves involved in criminal conspiracies and actions, this is indeed a welcome change.

Dr N.A. Karim is a former Professor of English and an erstwhile Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram.

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