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Monday 22 September 2014
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Delhi police rightly targeted in gang rape case Kiran Bedi

Kiran Bedi, a former police officer. Reuters Image

The gang rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi that sparked public outrage across the country has also put the spotlight on policing in India’s “rape capital”.

Kiran Bedi, a former police officer who won the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1994 for her work in the city, says the Dec. 16 gang rape could have been prevented.

Bedi told Reuters in an email interview that a crime prevention plan and effective police training could help turn things around in New Delhi.


Q: What happened on Dec. 16 — could it have been prevented?
A: Totally preventable. If daily homework of crime prevention was done by the cops. Whether it was tough traffic checking, or responding to crimes reported, visible community policing, etc. And all over Delhi. Not at few places, by few officers.

Q: Were you surprised that police were targeted?
A: No. They were rightly targeted for not doing their daily duties well on crime prevention or crime detection or community police relations building.

Q: Police are being increasingly charged with insensitivity towards crimes against women. Why is that?
A: It (is) because they feel not accountable to them. They have become more VIP-security oriented. Not common man sensitive. Corruption has rusted them.

Q: Is there absolutely no psychological training of our policemen for them to better handle people?
A: None at all. Training is not a priority in policing. For some seniors, training is for the benefit of their successors only.

Q: Does the insensitivity flow from top to bottom?
A: Absolutely. We in the service follow a transactional model, not transformational model. It is illusive, distant and hierarchical. As against the need to be accessible, inclusive and collaborative.

Q: What should a citizen, especially women, do when faced with an uncooperative policeman?
A: Work through a network. Numbers pressure the police.

Q: You have said you can help change things in Delhi police in 90 days. How do you plan to do it?
A: Yes, it’s possible. If we put in place a crime prevention plan where all units work simultaneously. On crime prevention in collaboration (with) the community. The commissioner police system is effective, provided we use all its preventive sections of law. And the rules framed. And we make the police station function effectively… My offer to train police leadership and put the system on track remains. Once I do, they can continue to work on it. But then I will also put in place an external audit system to evaluate continuity. And review.

Q: What do you think of the political, police and civilian response to the Delhi gang rape?
A: Political response is only time serving. They lack sincerity. And authenticity. Police is also impersonal. It is not one of hurt. Civilian response has been volcanic where this case became the last straw on the camel’s back. It was like a simmering volcano which erupted… It was decades of cold, indifferent corrupt policing which would avoid recording crimes or avoid arrests, poorly investigate and laggard trials. With rapists out on bail without any conditions of preventive behaviour. Focus in the past few years in policing has been anti- terror, VIP, and law and order. Not crime prevention and community policing. Hence, the decline and the drought.

Q: What is wrong with the current law and police procedures for crimes against women? What needs to be corrected?

A: Urgent need for formulation of a crime prevention plan with sub-plans of all six Ps. … People — Collaborative policing with people while they self-police too Police — With their own systems of crime prevention such as beat systems, verification and surveillance and intelligence systems, free registration of crimes + regular on-the-job training for quality investigations and more Prosecution — fast track trials with proper management of court work Politician — they give you the laws Press/media/Bollywood/pictures Prisons — To check contamination. And ensure reform … All six Ps are like an organic whole to ensure everyone’s security. Not only of women. These are all part of a healthy or sick body. currently, they are sick due to which the body of policing is sick. We need to make (it) holistically healthy.

Q: Do you support death penalty? In your policing career, has severity of punishment acted as a deterrent?

A: Two things work. Respect for law and fear of law. We need both. We need certainty of punishment. And a tough one. Hence, such cases like the one we have all suffered require death penalty.

Q: One of your tweets suggests that girls should choose their friends wisely in order to avoid getting sexually exploited. Is that not joining those who blame women for being raped?
A: I am for girls being sensible and being alert on what company they keep. And for responsible behaviour of boys. Girls have to take extra care as they are biologically vulnerable. It’s not in one’s interest to be reckless. We have all been careful to survive. And this is wisdom. Prevention is a good habit.

Q: You have also voiced support for an introspection of our popular culture especially in films, ads and songs.

A: As a teenager, I once walked out of a dance which I thought was demeaning to me as a woman. The more self-respecting we as women will be, the less tolerant we shall be over obscene use of the gender.

Q: When you were active in the police force, how did you specifically deal with the issue of sexual harassment of women?

A: With utmost sensitivity and response.

Q: What would be your advice to women — and men — in the current scenario?

A: It’s a collective responsibility to make our society civil. And we must together perform our responsibilities in grooming our families. These form the nucleus of all communities. Perform our duties as parents, teachers, employers, opinion makers, public servants … remaining conscientious.

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