Rulers Can't be Aloof from Public Outrage

Published: 24th July 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th July 2014 12:36 AM   |  A+A-

Was it an expression of frustration or a show of insensitivity by Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah? “Is it the only news you have” was his retort to reporters pestering him for information on a rape case. For more than a week now, rapes have dominated headlines in Karnataka. First, a 22-year-old undergraduate sitting with a friend in a car in front of her parents’ home was abducted and sexually assaulted. The youngsters tracked down the perpetrator and called the police. While the man was held, the police inspector advised the victims to file lesser charges. A day later, it emerged that a six-year-old student in an upmarket school had been raped, most probably by staffers. The management had tried to hush up, and the parents learned about what their child had gone through only when a doctor treating her for a persistent fever discovered a vaginal tear.

The post-Nirbhaya spate of rape reports has continued. Thankfully, in Karnataka every case evokes horror. The two cases in Bangalore produced a louder outcry because the first one happened in the heart of the city and in the second, the victim was a vulnerable child. Bangalore’s citizens came out on the streets again and again.

But the government, particularly the police and home minister K J George, was slow to react. While George may not have wanted to draw the media to the young woman’s home by visiting her, he could definitely have reached out to worried parents of Vibgyor High. Finally, police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar was sacrificed. This is just the latest case of bungling by the home department. Two MLAs are yet to pay for assaults on police constables. And the punishment an additional director-general of police has received so far for taking objectionable pictures of a woman in a café is a slap on the wrist. Siddaramaiah must realise that such incidents sully his image and erode his standing, especially among women and city dwellers. He must step in quickly when a situation appears to spin out of control because of poor handling by ministers.

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