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lewd comments: accountability

Mind your Language


Even police should be made accountable for their sweeping remarks
NIDHI GUPTA | Issue Dated: January 27, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Controversial remarks | hate speech | Asaram Bapu | Akbarrudin Owaisi | Swami Kamlananda Bharati |

Controversial remarks from responsible citizens are not something very new to the society. However, a big question today is, do we also hold police officials accountable for their sweeping statements that malign individuals. Although the Indian Constitution clearly allows a citizen to seek punishment on anyone who shows the citizen disrespect “on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever”, sweeping remarks are still not considered as a part of hate speech and, thus, go unprosecuted – and more so if the commenter belonged to the police.

The country was furious when Asaram Bapu, a self-proclaimed Godman  blamed the recent rape victim herself for her plight; and a case was registered against him in Bihar. All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen (AIMIM or MIM) MLA, Akbarrudin Owaisi was sent recently to Adilabad district jail for spreading communal hatred. Very recently, Swami Kamlananda Bharati was arrested on January 14 in Hyderabad for making a hate speech against Muslims. In 2007, the authorities had charged the late Maqbool Fida Husain for hurting the religious sentiments of Hindus when he had painted Mother India as a nude woman. Likewise, in 2007, Pune police arrested four software-engineers for posting an obscene profile on the Internet.

In this context, an example is the recent remark of the Thane Police Commissioner that women should keep red chilli powder and should not venture out late night to avoid rape. Another example is when in January 2013, the Punjab police heartlessly revealed the name of a gang rape victim. The contentious statements coming from persons who upon joining their service pledge to keep the nation and its citizens safe has outraged many. But the moot point is, when all of the above instances against citizens ended up in the police taking action, then why not hold police officials also accountable and responsible for their inept comments. In a sting operation conducted by Tehelka across 23 police stations of NCR, the shallow attitude of police officers and their stance on rapes in the city was revealed. The investigation exposed how certain police officers blame women equally if not more for the crime and concluded that some police officials think that “almost all women deserve to be raped.” Such a comment shows abysmal lack of thoughtfulness on the part of police officials. The situation is somewhat similar in the US where NYPD warned women not to wear short skirts because they could get raped.

Such lewd remarks by public servants on the issues of women safety have raised question marks on the very seriousness of their commitment towards the society. Of course, the police does regularly take action against its own ilk when clear cut accusations against any police official are proven true. Then why not extend this hospitality to comments of the police too. If the advocates of religious fascism are held accountable by courts of law, then why should the so-called public servants be not held accountable for their remarks and speeches which are not only unconstitutional but are also discriminatory, to say the least.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017