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"We will introduce Verma panel recommendations in Parliament"


ADITYA RAJ KAUL | Issue Dated: January 31, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Delhi gang rape | Verma Committee report | Anti-rape laws | RPN Singh |


India’s Minister of State for Home RPN Singh, is a man in the middle of the action. The Home Ministry is the nodal government agency expected to devise and pilot steps to improve policing, which is under direct public gaze and court supervision. In an exclusive chat with Aditya Raj Kaul a month after the brutal Delhi gang rape, Singh talks at length on the steps undertaken to ensure security for women. Following an RTI application by TSI, he agreed to change the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) maintenance of rape case records.
It has been more than a month since the Delhi gang rape shook the country. Who takes the responsibility and blame?
I can understand that there has been a lot of controversy but if we actually look at the positives that have come out, the outburst by the people of the city has led to stringent measures. We have taken steps which will make this city a much safer place. We have come out with two time-bound committees. The three-member Justice Verma Committee report has just announced far reaching reforms in rape laws.
Implementation of laws has been a cause of concern. What will you do with the Verma Committee report?
We will try to introduce it as soon as possible in Parliament for enactment. We have also instituted an inquiry commission on the unfortunate incident that happened on December 16 which is being headed by Justice Usha Mehra. If there has been laxity from any individual or organisations, we will take stringent action against them. That will also happen in a timeline of three months. There have been very good suggestions by people who came out to protest and I am sure it will lead to something concrete.
Was Delhi Police right in using brute force against protesters and media?
I have repeated it often and will say it again: 99 per cent of the people protesting were peaceful, there was an emotional outrage over the dastardly act and there was anger amongst the people, which is why they came out and tried to make their voices heard. Unfortunately, one per cent of those present there were miscreants who were looking to make trouble. I apologise to genuine protesters who were injured in the bargain. It is extremely unfortunate and it should not have happened. But, had we let the protesters on to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the same people criticising us would have turned around and said “What kind of government is this, which allows protesters to barge into the Rashtrapati Bhavan”.It was a decision which we had to take on the spot. I would like to reassure people that their voices have been heard and the government is taking steps to meet their demands. 
A common man travellingin a public bus in Delhi is insecure. What is your understanding?
Without doubt the police needs to pull up its socks. There has to be more patrolling and police presence. But the police have taken corrective measures. Obviously, a lot more needs to be done. 
Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit had demanded that the Delhi Police Commissioner quit. It was later repeated by the Delhi High Court. 
I can understand the angst of the chief minister of Delhi. She has without doubt done tremendous good work in the city and has become the face of Delhi. During any such incident, people look towards her for succor. I can understand her frustration. Even though a lot of people may not know it, the constitutional position is that the Delhi Police is not under the chief minister of Delhi. It is a central subject. Agitators expected her to take some action against the police. So ultimately, as a representative of the people of Delhi, she is answerable to a lot of things over which she has no control. I have traveled in a bus and security needs to be beefed up. There is always room for improvement. 

Countryside protests have followed the Delhi rape. How does one change things?
I think India needs to revisit its past, go back to the kind of moral and ethical values that were prevalent in our ancestors. The root problem in this country has nothing to do with your education or lack of it. In families where children see respect for women when they are growing up, the child will grow up respecting women. In families where this is not the case, bad examples are being set. Good values have to be inculcated in our children.
TSI had filed an RTI with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asking for details of rape cases and the number of those convicted in the last ten years. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in their response said that such records are not maintained. 
We have already started to come out with a database which will carry details of sexual offenders. It is a proposal we are working on, to make it electronic and open to the public so that they have information. We recently saw the case of a convict serving imprisonment for rape being released after a 10-year term on the basis of good behaviour. The moment he came out, he raped again. 
Does the Juvenile Act need changes?
The home minister called a meeting of all Directors General of Police (DGPs) and state chief secretaries to give their viewpoints on violence against women and SCs/STs. A lot of states are on board that the juvenile age should be reduced from 18 to 16.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017