Mr PM, convene all-party meet on women’s safety

In 1989 when Mulayam Singh Yadav first became the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh he had taken up two programmes on a war footing – creation of a bhumi sena to convert huge chunks of barren land into fertile ones and construction of toilets for women. I clearly remember the twin issues that he had passionately raised at my very first interview with him.

Let me concede that as a privileged person who grew up in the country’s capital, I had failed to understand their relevance but found their very mention quite preposterous. Perhaps, it was hard for me to understand the ‘humiliation’ that women, at large, faced in rural areas while answering nature’s call.

Later, while travelling in the interiors of the state I often saw uncomfortable woman looking for a safe place to ease themselves.

What has gone wrong with the same Mulayam Singh Yadav that he has become insensitive to the problems faced by women in rural India —what was humiliation till the other day has turned into physical assault—and now murder . How gruesome can be gruesome – hanging girls from trees and why? And then we say , “Boys will be boys.”

The Badaun incident triggered politics with condemnations of the Akhilesh government pouring in from all quarters, so much so that in their zeal to score brownie points the Union home ministry sent a missive to the state government demanding to know why no action was initiated against the culprits under the SC and ST Act, Ram Vilas Paswan and Meira Kumar flew in to comfort the ‘ Dalit’ family.

The Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who hails from UP, should have known that both the victims and the accused were backwards. Mayawati knew.

That Akhilesh government can’t be forgiven for such a heinous crime in his state goes without saying – the crimes happening against women in other states is no alibi. But at the same time it is also not the time to do politics on such heinous crimes.

It happened in Budaun, tomorrow it will happen in Delhi or elsewhere. Meanwhile, the UP police will do some good by remaining quiet till investigations were over – their unwarranted statements or spate of suspensions cannot compensate for their ineffectiveness in checking such crimes.

It’s high time Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiates a special session on women’s safety – invite chief ministers of all states and leaders of all political parties to evolve a strong national policy on the issue. Can’t the country come together on some issues, at least.

The meeting will send two messages – one to the criminals about the nations angry mood to take on them collectively , second to the international community on India’s determination to provide safety to women. I am sure Modi will earn goodwill as well as support.

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