Recently, Delhi University was hit by the shockwaves of spot-death of one of its student near the campus. Radhika Tanwar, a second-year student of Ram Lal Anand College, New Delhi, was murdered by a jilted lover in broad daylight on International Women’s Day. The assailant, 25-year-old Ram Singh alias Vijay, who earlier worked for a fabric unit, had confessed his feelings for her three and a half years back, came back to harass her after being snubbed by her and beaten by her family and friends the first time around.
According to his friends, who were later detained by the police, Vijay felt humiliated after being beaten up in public for harassing her and hence developed a deep grudge against her and wanted to avenge his humiliation. The question that arises is – Was it Radhika’s fault that the assailant expected a polite and intimate response after stalking her? What if his sister was being stalked in a similar way, would Vijay’s response be gracious? She was not the one to have tempted him to come after her; moreover, it is not obligatory for a girl to like someone in return. Women in such a society are not safe. This story is one of the many such cases which elucidate the vulnerability of women; it makes us constantly worry about walking alone through a deserted lane or parking space or even running an errand after dark. Fear dictates where we live, how we choose to travel and when, the educational institution we apply to, the places we visit. We become victims because of our gender. It petrifies us further when we hear stories of acquaintances of the victim being the guilty.
This incident reminds us of the BPO employee who was kidnapped and raped last year, the location being very near to that of Radhika’s murder. Following the incident, the Police Commissioner had announced implementation of measures like extra barricading, pickets and PCR vans in the particular area. But according to sources, on the morning of Radhika’s murder, there wasn’t a single PCR van or cop in sight. That coupled with the reluctance of the onlookers to nab the attacker which allowed the attacker to escape.
Help from the witnesses can expedite the process of arresting the guilty as it turns out that both Radhika and Jessica Lal were shot at in full public view by their assailants. Their lack of coming forward clearly demonstrates the harassment eye-witnesses go through along with the looming threat to their lives particularly in high-profile cases. Thus, it indicates the fact that India is facing a grave crisis of governance today; manifestation of this crisis being increasing lawlessness, serious erosion of legitimacy of authority, an extremely inefficient justice system and most importantly, the failure of police in enforcing the rule of law and maintaining public order or controlling crimes. Both Radhika and Jessica are victims of a lackadaisical system.
Besides the inefficient policing, outlook of men at large towards women should also undergo change. Their behaviour towards the opposite gender is not justified specially in today’s age when women compete with men in every sphere and are financially independent. The state of affairs of our society can only be improved when men realise the importance of women in the society and are held accountable for their actions to prevent an epidemic of such cases if they fail to give women their due respect. Otherwise, we would witness new Radhika or Jessica Lal making the headlines every day!
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