Mission Shakti to empower women?

UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath launches ‘Mission Shakti’ in the state to ensure safety and protecting dignity of women. A report by Mudit Mathur

When the entire nation is celebrating ‘Navratri-Durga Puja’ worshiping Goddess Durga — a supreme divine of power defeating evil forces and devil spirits, the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath timed it as an opportunity to launch ‘Mission Shakti’ in the state pledging the support of his government to ensure safety and protecting dignity of women. His two-fold endeavour has been to make it a public awareness campaign involving teachers, self-help groups, village chiefs and public at large with an objective to treat women with respect and dignity providing her safety at all places and simultaneously gearing up special policing efforts to check the rising crimes against women.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on the very first day of ‘Navratri’ festival launched the state-wide ‘Mission Shakti’ programme, with a stern warning to those who perpetrate crimes against women. He reiterated his government’s “resolve towards dignity, safety and empowerment of women and girls in the state.”

The government has been facing discord over a sequence of rape incidents in Uttar Pradesh.Facing heat over recent cases of inhuman atrocities of rapes and murders inflicted upon women in various parts of the state especially humiliation due to Hathras, Barabanki and Balrampur episodes, the chief minister focused his emphasis on imparting good cultural values as a part of educational curriculum. He directed education department to link education with good cultural values (Sanskar) as a part of ‘Mission Shakti.’

Elaborating his ideas of ‘Mission Shakti’ Yogi Adityanath explained, “In the first phase of the programme, we are going to spread awareness on women safety. the second phase will focus on legal action to be taken, and in the third phase, we will launch massive action against two kinds of people — one who are posing a threat to the security of women and those who are indulged in large scale corruption in the schemes meant for the welfare of women.”

The second phase, ‘Operation Shakti’, will target eve-teasers and put them to punishment or reforms. “If such elements do not mend their ways, they will have to face social boycott and their pictures will be displayed publicly,” warned Yogi Adityanath, reminding zero-tolerance towards crimes against women and girls, in his typical aggressive style that was displayed during ‘naming and shaming’ posters of the protesters, who came forward to oppose Citizenship Amendment Act.

“There will be a separate room now for women complainants in 1,535 police stations across the state, where a female Police constable will attend them and there will be urgent action on their complaint. Criminals indulged in crimes against women will be punished promptly,” Yogi added.

In a tweet, the CM’s Office said that initiatives like gender-based sensitisation, training, corporate activity, voice messages, interviews, programmes in Durga Puja and other cultural pandals should be organised to create greater awareness under ‘Mission Shakti’.

Interacting with women gram pradhans and women public representatives through a Zoom meet as part of the ‘Mission Shakti,’ the Chief Minister said that the society must deliberate over the question as to why atrocities on girls in villages are being committed by the villagers themselves.

“Earlier, there used to be no such incidents as there was a belief in village that “gaon ki beti, sab ki beti” (a daughter of the village is daughter of everybody). “Where are we going today? Why atrocities perpetrated upon daughters of the village in the village? This question poses a challenge before a civilised society, and we all have to accept this challenge, (Aaj hum log kahan ja rahe hain? Kyun gaon ki beti ke sath gaon mein hi atyachar ho raha hai… yeh prashn ek sabhya samaj ke saamne ek challenge hai aur is chunauti ko hum sabko sweekar karna hoga),” Adityanath said.

Hope Welfare Trust constituted by students of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 2015 runs the Green Gang. It will also impart self-defence training to girls. The volunteers will enlighten rural women and girls about the law and organise programmes to boost their self-confidence. The Green Gang has launched a self-defence programme in 10 villages where Maoists had been active. The volunteers of Green Gang move on foot from village after villages for campaigning among people to give up gambling and liquor. The state government involved this action group in its ‘Mission Shakti’ to reach deeper in the villages with familiar reformist faces for its popular appeal.

The Green Gang, comprising women volunteers, is running de-addiction and anti-gambling campaigns in rural folks of Purvanchal region. They will take responsibility for the security of women in 200 villages in Varanasi, Sonbhadra, Mirzapur, Jaunpur, Chandauli and Ayodhya districts. In the coming months, the Green Gang will be activated in 50 more villages. Volunteers will also celebrate the birth of the girl child in villages. As a mark of happiness, they will put a green impression on the door and wall of houses where girls are born. Members will pursue complaints of harassment and ensure that anti-social elements involved in harassment of women must go behind bars, the campaign envisaged.

Chief Minister also stressed the need to circulate extensive publicity material about women’s safety and respect through social media and other communication means. In addition to daily review of cases related to crimes against women at the district level, senior officers should also conduct weekly, fortnightly and monthly reviews, the CM said in the meeting. He also issued instructions to establish women help desks in all the police stations of UP, and intensify the activities of anti-Romeo squads.

Additional Director General (Women) and Child Safety Organization’s head Neera Rawat and Inspector General of Lucknow Range Laxmi Singh, made a presentations on Mission Shakti and Operation Shakti before the chief minister who directed its effective implementation through regular meetings of a panel in every district to have continuous monitoring of crimes against women and children. He also sought faster steps for quick disposal of such cases and those related to Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

Under Operation Shakti, the government may prepare a register of persons who have come out of jail after serving time for crimes against women and monitor if there are fresh complaints against them further comes out. Innovative policing deployed under Mission Shakti campaign. The new women patrolling force called ‘Pink-Patrol.’ Aftergoing through a rigorous training, about 250 women police personnel presently deployed in the ‘Pink Patrol’. After the launch of pilot project in state capital, the government is contemplating to extend the ‘Pink Patrol’ Scheme in other prominent districts of the statesuch as Kanpur, Agra, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Prayagraj, Meerut, Noida, Ghaziabad and Moradabad.

In the first phase of this programme, around 100 Scooty and 10 SUV’s are pressed into service in the State. The ‘Pink- Patrol’ is adequately trained force to take instant action in the cases of molestation and crime against women.

Disclosing its plans a spokesperson of the government told media, “These will be initially stationed at spots including girls’ colleges or at the places where women move around in large numbers. Areas where cases of molestation take place will also draw special attention.”Under the Safe City plan the ‘Pink Patrol’ will operate in the places that have been identified by Lucknow police as hotspots. On basis of complaints and suggestions from women intensive patrolling will be ensured.

Lucknow Police officials said that ‘Pink Patrol’ can also be deployed at night as per the need. The force will be directly connected to the nearest police station with 1090, 112 and integrated control room so that additional police force can be dispatched immediately, if needed.

Additional Director General (Prosecution) Ashutosh Pandey claimed,” Gearing up prosecution machinery has started bearing results just within couple of days of launching ‘Mission Shakti as 14 people convicted with the death penalty in 11 cases related to crimes against women and children in the state. As many as 28 convicts got life sentence while 39 others were sentenced to jail for different terms of durations. “The prosecution department also got the bail cancelled of 398 accused in cases related to crimes against women and children,” he disclosed.

“We identified around 400 cases related to crime against women out of which trials in 134 cases have been concluded. We are working hard to make coordination at all the levels to conclude them at the earliest. We are monitoring day to day progress in these cases to speed up disposal of pending cases,” he added.

The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 7.3 percent rise in crime against women in 2019 as compare to 2018.A total of 4,05,861 cases of crime against women were registered during 2019 over 2018 (3,78,236 cases). The Majority of cases under crime against women under IPC were registered under ‘Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives’ (30.9 per cent) followed by ‘Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty’ (21.8 per cent), ‘Kidnapping & Abduction of Women’ (17.9 per cent) and ‘Rape’ (7.9 per cent). The crime rate registered per lakh women population is 62.4 in 2019 in comparison with 58.8 in 2018.

The Uttar Pradesh recorded 3065 case of rape in 2019 while Rajasthan topped the list with 5997 cases. UP registered 34 cases of rape with murder or gang rape with murder whereas Maharashtra went on the top of list with 47 such cases. Sharing the data of Uttar Pradesh on his Twitter page, the ADG prosecution highlighted that 1,772 cases out of 3,065 registered cases of rapes cropped up because of making false pretext of marriage. In 317 cases family members indulged in it whereas 785 cases committed by criminals, friends or neighbours and in 191 cases accused are unknown.

‘Mission Shakti,’ a six-month programme has been conceptualised to sensitise people to respect and provide security to women. The chief minister had launched it on October 17 (from the beginning of the Shardiya Navratri) and will run until April next year (Vasantik Navratri).” These programmes will be organised in all the 521 blocks, 59,000-gram panchayats, 630 urban local bodies and 1,535 police stations in the 75 districts of the state. Women nodal officers appointed by the government in all the districts for the execution and monitoring of the campaign will try to create awareness about the helplines — 1090, 181, 1076, 108 and 102,” revealed an official communiqué. The efforts of the government still fail to inspire confidence in opposition ranks as they termed ‘Mission Shakti’ as an image building exercise that was badly dented recently over its handling of heinous gang rape and murder cases that were taken over by CBI after political hue and cry.

Samajwadi Party leader and former president of Allahabad Student’s Union Richa Singh said, “In a system where the police force itself has forgotten the basics of law, it will be worthless to hope for women’s safety. The government may plan any numbers of campaigns, but the reality has already been exposed before the public.”

Echoing similar sentiments the President of UP Mahila Congress, Mamta Chaudhary commented, “If the chief minister is really concerned about the safety of women then his priority must be to ensure serious action in the cases that had rocked the state in recent past.”

Strongly reacting to the statements of opposition leaders over ‘Mission Shakti’ the State BJP’s spokesperson Naveen Srivastava said, “Our government is continuously working for the cause of women’s safety and taking all effective steps for the women empowerment. The opposition does nothing worthwhile other than indulging in the game of mud shingling.”