New Delhi: Underlining the need for urgent and strict action by the state and central governments, various social groups on Saturday condemned the insensitive role of police in the gang-rape and murder of two girls in Uttar Pradesh`s Badaun district two days ago.
The groups lashed out at the lackadaisical approach of police and insensitive comments of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, after the two girls were found hanging from a tree.
The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) condemned the role of police officers in shielding the accused.
"There can be no hope of preventing or minimising rape if our law enforcers are apathetic to it. A message must be sent that this kind of criminality will not be tolerated, particularly against minors, by ensuring that all the penal provisions on gang rape and murder are invoked, including the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012," a statement said.
As per reports, when the parents of the girls approached police to file a complaint, the officials refused to do so and sent them away, asking them "not to worry".
Ruchira Gupta, founder and president of NGO Apne Aap Women Worldwide, echoed similar sentiments and stressed the need to hold police accountable.
"To stop rape, we need police to be held accountable. As long as police are part of the problem, poor, low caste women have nowhere to turn to for justice from men who rape them, buy and sell them," Gupta said in a statement.
"Even police believe that poor low caste women should be sexually available. There is an urgent need for police reforms and urgent need for section 166 A to challenge India`s rape culture," she said, referring to the section in the Indian Penal Code that deals with a public official disobeying the law.
The groups feel "police revamping" is necessary.
"Unless there is a full examination of the chain of command and police is not revamped from top to toe, these tragedies will continue to occur," said CHRI director Maja Daruwala in a statement.
NGO ActionAid hailed Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi`s quick response seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation and setting up of a "rape crisis cell".
"We welcome the speedy and sensitive response from Maneka Gandhi who has promised that a `rape crisis cell` will be set up which has been a long standing demand of women`s rights groups," Sehjo Singh, ActionAid India`s programme and policy director, said in a statement.
Expressing concern on the low rate of conviction, Singh said: "The extremely low conviction rates send out a signal to perpetrators that they are free to act with impunity and can deter women from reporting rape and other crimes of sexual violence."
"The number of reported cases does not reflect the true number of cases of rape and sexual assault, which are widespread throughout rural and urban India. This is particularly true for marginalised groups like the dalits who are often threatened not to report cases either by powerful castes or even by police," she added.