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With rising rape cases in Rajasthan, BJP's poll plank of women security falls flat

The current BJP government came to power accusing Congress of inaction on the serious issue of crimes against women in the state, saying that Congress was in deep slumber. Even though BJP had prioritised women security in their manifesto and assured that crime against women will not be tolerated, the state’s crime graph against women, it seems, is rising.
Last Updated 27 February 2024, 17:19 IST

Jaipur: As the Pragpura rape survivor continues to fight for her life at Jaipur’s Sawai Man Singh Hospital, the Rajasthan police today made two of the accused, with shaven heads and in tattered clothes, walk around the market for close to a kilometre.

In another ghastly incident today, a 24-year-old woman admitted in a ICU for lung infection in Alwar district, was allegedly raped by a nursing assistant. The incident took place around 4 pm today and the accused has been identified as Chirag Yadav.

In the Pragpura rape horror case, the survivor and her brother were savagely attacked with a machete by a man called Rajendra Yadav, 33, who allegedly raped her. He had two of his accomplices, Mahipal Gujjar, 22 and Rahul Gujjar,19, with him when the attack took place on Saturday around 7:30 pm while they were returning home. The incident happened barely 20 km from Pragpura police station in the Kotputli-Behrod region.

The rape survivor had earlier filed a rape case against Yadav in June 2023, who was then jailed and released on bail. Since then he has been stalking the rape survivor to withdraw the case. The 24-year-old’s brother has alleged that even though they had asked for police protection, nobody paid heed. And on Saturday, both brother and sister were attacked brutally with a machete several times and shot at - with the bullet piercing through her spine.

Meanwhile, Yadav lost his leg as he jumped before a train in a suicide attempt. One of his legs got cut under the train while the other had to be amputated.     

Survivor’s brother said that political leaders, including Chief Minister Bhajanlal Sharma and former chief minister Ashok Gehlot, had come to meet her now but when they wanted help from police, they simply looked the other way and did not even help them to be transported to hospital. Congress party has formed a three-member investigative committee to look into the case.  

The current BJP government came to power accusing Congress of inaction on the serious issue of crimes against women in the state, saying that Congress was in deep slumber. Even though BJP had prioritised women security in their manifesto and assured that crime against women will not be tolerated, the state’s crime graph against women, it seems, is rising.

After the present government took over in December 2023, there have been a rise in number of reported rape cases in Rajasthan. There may be many other cases which have gone unreported, say women activists.

On December 26, three men allegedly kidnapped a 17-year-old girl and raped her in a hotel in Alwar district.

In another incident, on December 28, a 26-year-old woman was gang-raped in Jhalawar district.

On January 2, 2024, a pregnant minor tribal girl died by suicide after allegedly being raped by a 21-year-old in Pratapgarh district.

On January 10, a eight-year-old was raped in Seenthal village in Bikaner district, when she had gone to get milk. 

On January 20, a 15-year-old minor girl was gang-raped by three men, who left her in front of a liquor shop in Land in Didwana Kuchaman district. 

On January 23, report said a 17-year-old school student was raped and murdered by her Hindi school teacher and her body was thrown in a well in Barmer district.

On February 15 this year, a 16-year-old NEET aspirant was gang-raped by four students, one of them being her friend. 

The unusually high number of rape cases just in the last two months after BJP government took over, is highly demoralising, particularly because women safety was one of their main poll planks, said political analysts. 

Former chairperson of Women’s Commission and women activist Laad Kumari Jain told DH, “Where is the political will? It is the same with both parties. Laws regarding women safety are many in India, but there is no proper implementation. Once the parties come to power, women's issues do not remain their priority any more. Promising women safety is just one of the ploys to garner votes, it seems, with so many  crimes against women in the past two months.”

Incidentally, in his first address in the Rajasthan Assembly, Bhajanlal Sharma had slammed the previous Congress government saying that whenever the grand old party was in power in the state, rape and atrocities against women increased.

"At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was praising Nari Shakti and working to increase the respect of women in the country, our state was at the peak of atrocities against women so much so they were  afraid to leave the  house," Sharma had said.

During the Congress regime in March 2022, cabinet minister Shanti Dhariwal, in a highly objectionable statement, had associated the high number of rape cases in Rajasthan with state “being a men’s state.” He had said "Rajasthan toh pardon ka pradesh raha hain, ab uska kya karen,” that had led to a huge uproar. 

Later deputy chief minister and finance minister, Diya Kumari, in a retort to Dhariwal had said during her Budget speech in February that “Rajasthan is not only a men’s state". (Yeh sir mardon ka pradesh nehi hain.)

Political analyst Narayan Bareth said, “Women are not safe anywhere, not in hospitals, not in police lines, not at bus stops. Parties always do double-speak on women issues. The change has to come at a socio-political level and not be just cosmetic. Where is the foresightedness regarding women safety? BJP propagates and glorifies one type of violence in the form of hate speech and that has spilled over as violence against women, when culprits are no longer afraid to take drastic measures such as hacking or murder. The party is also propagating practising devotion in so many ways but looking at the rising crime graph against women, the increased devoutness has not brought any changes in the mindset of people. We have the figures of those cases which are reported, there are many more which go unreported.”

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(Published 27 February 2024, 17:19 IST)

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