PATNA DURBAR: NCW slams state’s record

The Nitish Kumar government, which has often patted itself for its pioneering work on women’ empowerment in Bihar, had a rap on its knuckles from an unexpected quarter recently. A visiting member of the National Commission for Women ( NCW) said that the women were not at all safe in the state.

Charu WaliKhanna, who was in Patna recently to investigate a few cases of crime against women, said that the Bihar government had failed to enforce law and order in the state. She went to the extent of likening the situation to a ‘ jungle raj’. “ The state government has provided bicycles to the young girls, but there is no assurance of safety and security for them,” she was quoted as saying.

Members of the CWC with victims of sexual harassment

Members of the CWC with victims of sexual harassment

This was indeed the severest criticism of a regime which had always claimed to be ultra- sensitive towards the issues related to women. From ensuring 50 per cent quota for women in the panchayat elections to setting up of womenexclusive police stations in the state, Nitish has been credited with having initiated a slew of steps to empower and protect the fair sex.

The NCW member, however, had valid reasons to hit out at the state government. In recent times, crime against women has risen considerably across the state. The high- profile gangrape of a minor girl in Patna by five youngsters who not only assaulted her but also filmed their horrendous act on their cell phones recently came as a shocker.

This was followed by the instance of continual ordeal of the seven village girls from Rohtas district who had been putting up with harassment by a local goon and his accomplices for the past five years. During WaliKhanna’s visit, the girls came down to Patna to lodge a complaint with the director- general of police about their prolonged suffering.

Other incidents of atrocities have also been reported from different parts of Bihar at regular intervals.

Last month, five miscreants tried to abduct a woman school teacher from a busy street at Maner in Patna district while she was returning from her school. It was because of an intrepid male colleague of hers that the bid was foiled. In Vaishali, a mob of villagers went on a rampage setting on fire several vehicles after the police failed to arrest the accused in a gangrape- cum- murder case.

Two teenaged girls were also sexually assaulted in West Champaran and Bhojpur districts.

These can hardly be called isolated cases. As per the latest statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau ( NCRB), crime against women in Bihar has increased significantly by 65 per cent in the past three years. Its records show that there has been a constant rise in the incidents of violent crime against women. The state police officials, however, defend themselves by saying that this has happened because more and more women are coming forward to register FIRs now.

It is true that the government has set up several all- women police stations to encourage them to lodge FIRs against any crime while the state women’s commission has also been prompt in resolving women- related issues at its own level.

Still, the rising crime against women should be a matter of concern for the Nitish government which had received tremendous support from them.

In the last assembly elections, woman voters had outnumbered their male counterparts in turning out at the polling stations apparently in appreciation of the Nitish government’s performance.