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Over 10 years, Bengaluru molestations rose 417%, conviction rate 0.37%

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Crime

In a decade to 2016, the incidents of molestation (under Section 354) reported in Bengaluru increased more than four-fold, statistics compiled by the citys Commissioner of Police show. Yet, according to our analysis of police data, of the 4,241 complaints filed between 2006 and 2016, the conviction rate was 0.37 per cent (16 cases).

The number of complaints under under Section 354 (assault to outrage the modesty of a woman) rose from 150 in 2006 to 776 in 2016. Experts say this could be because of an increase in the number of incidents as well as greater willingness on the part of women to register complaints.

This data project could serve as a template for how police in India’s burgeoning cities can make sense of their crime data in public interest.

Section 354 includes sexual harassment (354A), use of criminal force with intent to disrobe (354B), voyeurism (354C) and stalking (354D). The data obtained from the Bengaluru commissionerate group these offences under “molestation”.

Bengaluru entered 2017 with reports of mass molestation of women in the city’s bustling MG Road and Brigade Road areas despite deployment of thousands of police personnel. The reports came as a shock to residents and for people across the country who believed the city to be safe for women.

Kavya S., 24, was on her way to work when a stranger attacked her in public. “It was around 8:30 am in broad daylight, I was walking to work in Kormangala when a stranger grabbed me and tried to kiss me in front of dozens of people! No one came to my help but when I screamed and kicked him, they yelled at me and asked me to leave him,” she recounted.

Kavya immediately filed a complaint with the local police under Section 354, but did not pursue the case once she shifted her residence. “Police officials were very cooperative,” she recalled, “but I couldn’t follow up on the case as I had to shift my house and job.”

Cases such as Kavya’s are increasingly common, although Bengaluru police say they are working to improve the law and order situation for women. “We have identified areas that are hotspots for crimes against women and launched 51 Pink Hoysalas (mobile units) that are dedicated to women. We have also launched an app called ‘Suraksha’ last week (April second week). Anyone can inform us if they are in danger and we would reach the spot in 10 minutes,” S. Ravi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime), told IndiaSpend.

Bengaluru’s criminal justice system is marred by delays, as with the rest of India’s. Of the 4,241 molestation cases reported, 2,248 (53 per cent) are pending trial, according to data from the Bengaluru City Police Commissionerate.

Among the cases tried, there have been 523 acquittals (12 per cent) and 16 convictions (0.37 per cent) — even as the police consider 97 per cent of cases to be “true” after investigation. A decade earlier, the figure for “true” cases was 84 per cent, indicating more open-mindedness in dealing with women’s complaints as well as better effort on the police’s part to investigate.

However, lawyers and activists believe the large proportion of acquittals is due to shoddy investigation. “In most crime against women cases, especially the molestation cases, the accused get acquitted or the cases are kept pending for years,” Pramila Nesargi, a noted lawyer and a well-known women’s rights activist, said. “The main reason for all these is the reluctance of police in getting proper evidence.”

Bengaluru’s conviction rate for molestation is indicative of the larger problem nationwide. “Few women who survive sexual assault have a pathway to justice and recovery from their horror,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, an advocacy, in a statement.

The government needs to think from women’s perspective, Rani Shetty, coordinator of Vanitha Sahayavani, a government agency that provides rescue and support services for women in distress, and operates from the office of the Commissioner of Police, told IndiaSpend. “I have met many victims of molestation whose cases have been pending for years. The legal system needs to be strong, there should be fast-track judgment for any cases related to women,” she said.

As per law, the police have to file a chargesheet within 90 days of a crime being reported. “[I]n most cases, they fail to do so, and this in turn affects the court proceedings,” Ugrappa V.S., a member of the Karnataka Legislative Council and chairperson of the expert committee to prevent crimes against women and children, told IndiaSpend.

Judicial delays, which make it easy for the accused to get bail, can be extremely dangerous for victims of sexual assault. In one case, a Grade IX student was molested by her 25-year-old neighbour. Her family filed a Section 354 case at the Peenya police station and the accused was arrested immediately. On his release on bail within four months, he kidnapped the girl and raped her. He is back in jail now.

“What happened to me shouldn’t happen to any girl. He has to be punished,” the girl told IndiaSpend.

“If the police had taken strict action on his first crime, they could have prevented the second incident. Now he is in jail but he might do the same thing when he comes out,” her father said.

The city’s burgeoning population, with a massive influx of immigrants, could be one of the factors behind molestation cases such as the one that took place on New Year’s eve, former Lokayukta Justice (Retd) N. Santosh Hegde said speaking at a private college in the city in March 2017. The 2011 census had pegged Bangalore city’s population at 84.4 lakh. By 2016, it had risen to more than 1.15 crore.

“They come alone. They stay alone. And the manly desire is always there,” he said at the discussion about immigrants, adding that the benefit of anonymity in an overcrowded city apparently emboldens them to pursue their pervert desires. He also cited a lack of morals as one of the reasons.

(In arrangement with IndiaSpend.org, a data-driven, non-profit, public interest journalism platform. Elizabeth Mani is a Bengaluru-based independent journalist and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters. The views expressed are those of IndiaSpend. Feedback at [email protected])

By  Elizabeth Mani

(IANS)

 

Cities

Delhi Schools Unlikely To Reopen Until Covid Vaccine Is Available: Manish Sisodia

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

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Manish Sisodia

Schools in the national capital which are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic are unlikely to reopen until a vaccine is available, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Tuesday.

Universities and schools across the country were closed on March 16, when the Centre announced a countrywide classroom shutdown as part of measures to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“Until we get some vaccine, schools (in Delhi) are not likely to open,” Sisodia, who is also Delhi’s Education Minister, told reporters.

He had announced on October 30 that schools will remain closed until further orders, saying parents were not in favour of sending their ward to schools yet.

“We keep getting feedback from parents that they are really concerned about whether it is safe to reopen schools. It is not. Wherever schools have reopened, COVID-19 cases among children have risen. So we have decided that as of now schools in the national capital will not reopen. They will continue to be closed till further orders,” Sisodia had said then.

A nationwide lockdown was imposed on March 25.

While several restrictions have been eased in different ‘unlock’ phases, educational institutions continue to remain closed.

According to ‘Unlock 5’ guidelines, states can take a call on reopening schools in phases. Several states also began the process of reopening schools. While some of them announced closure again due to rise in coronavirus cases.

Earlier, schools were allowed to call students from Class 9 to 12 to school on voluntary basis from September 21. However, the Delhi government decided against it.

Delhi recorded 4,454 fresh COVID-19 cases on Monday and a positivity rate of 11.94 per cent while 121 more fatalities pushed the death toll to 8,512, authorities said.

These relatively low number of fresh cases came out of the 37,307 tests conducted on Sunday, including 18,046 RT-PCR tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

On last Friday, authorities had said that 23,507 RT-PCR tests, the highest till date, were conducted a day before.

The highest single-day spike till date here — 8,593 cases — was recorded on November 11 when 85 fatalities were recorded.

As many as 121 fatalities were recorded on Monday, same as the previous day.

This is the sixth time in the last 12 days that the daily number of deaths has crossed the 100-mark.

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Cities

Covid Cases Decreasing In Delhi Since November 10 Peak: Arvind Kejriwal To PM

Kejriwal told the prime minister that Delhi saw the peak of 8,600 coronavirus cases on November 10 during the third wave

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Arvind Kejriwal

At a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday said the high severity of the third wave of Covid-19 in the national capital is due to many factors, pollution being an important one, sources said.

Kejriwal told the prime minister that Delhi saw the peak of 8,600 coronavirus cases on November 10 during the third wave and since then, the number of cases as well as the positivity rate are steadily decreasing, the sources said.

The chief minister hoped that the trend would continue in the national capital.

“The high severity of the third wave is due to many factors. Pollution is an important factor. The chief minister sought the prime minister’s intervention to get rid of the pollution caused by stubble-burning in adjoining states, especially in view of the recent bio-decomposer technique,” a source said.

At the meeting with the prime minister, Kejriwal also sought the reservation of the additional 1,000 ICU beds in the central government-run hospitals in Delhi for coronavirus patients till the third wave of the infection lasts in the city, the source said.

Modi on Tuesday interacted via video-conferencing with the chief ministers of the states that are witnessing a surge in the number of coronavirus cases to review the pandemic situation.

Delhi recorded 4,454 fresh Covid-19 cases and a positivity rate of 11.94 per cent on Monday, while 121 more fatalities pushed the death toll due to the disease to 8,512 in the city.

This was the sixth time in 12 days that the daily number of deaths crossed the 100-mark in the national capital.

Authorities reported 121 deaths due to Covid-19 on Sunday, 111 on Saturday, 118 on Friday, 131 on November 18, the highest till date, and 104 on November 12.

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Cities

UP To Test Every Traveller From Delhi For Coronavirus

It seems the second Covid-19 has hit the national capital, he said, pointing to a spurt in cases there.

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COVID-19 antibody testing

The Uttar Pradesh government will test all travellers from Delhi for coronavirus, an official said on Sunday.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Secretary R K Tiwari said the state government is also considering restrictions on the number of people at weddings and other social programmes.

Tiwari said infection cases have increased in UP districts bordering Delhi.

It seems the second Covid-19 has hit the national capital, he said, pointing to a spurt in cases there.

So, we are testing everyone coming from Delhi, be it by air, train or bus, he said.

When asked about the kind of curbs that may be imposed at social gatherings, Tiwari said the decision will be taken on the prevailing situation.

“Districts in western UP like Gautam Buddh Nagar and Ghaziabad have restricted social gatherings to 100. Necessary steps will be taken as per the prevailing situation in various places to stop the spread of the infection,” he said.

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