Digest what Jangsher Singh, SHO of the DLF Phase-2 Police Station, who is investigating the recent rape case of the 23-year-old pub worker, says:“Isme kuch nahi hai. Chote chote bacche the… Do baar ladki ne baat ki ladkon se. Compromise karna hai toh compromise karlo. Ladki ne khud bol diya… money toh hai hi yaar. Money ke saath sauda kiya jaata hai (This case is nothing. They were young kids. The girl spoke twice to the boys about striking a ‘compromise’. It’s all about money. It’s only with money deals are stuck).”
Jangsher makes it plain there was more than a hint of consensual sex in the Gurgaon gang-rape: “Cooperation hai. Bahut kam hai main manta hoon; one ya two percent jisme nahi hota…Consent main hi hua yeh (The girls cooperate. I believe it’s very rare that there will be no cooperation… This case too had the girl’s consent).”
DISTURBINGLY, IN an endlessly frightening reiteration, the Gurgaon gang-rape case appears in the conversation of the Gurgaon Police only as a leitmotif of the girl’s culpability. TEHELKA captured conversations with the SHO as well as the additional SHO of Sector-29 Police Station, who otherwise have nothing to do with the ongoing investigation. Commenting on the girl’s character, SHO Jagdish Prasad said: “In the recent DLF case, the girl is 27-years-old, the boys are 18 to 20-years-old. They are kids. She was dancing with these kids in the bar… I am telling you she induced them… The girl came and gave her phone number to them.”
The big question that comes out of this is: if the police in the Delhi metropolitan area — with its exposure to modern idioms and supposed sensitivity to individual rights — nurtures such a mindset, what about the average cop in the hinterland? The thought is terrifying: is rape India’s most under-reported crime? Does anybody seriously believe that less than 25,000 women get raped in India each year?
The explanation for gang-rapes is bizarre. She must have been friendly with at least one of the rapists, goes the refrain
The officers TEHELKA encountered do not fulfil the basic standards of policing, which requires officers to investigate a case without any cultural, class or gender bias. Rather, the contrary seems true. Empathy for a rape victim seems an impossible ask. But in its place, there isn’t even neutrality. Everywhere, the dominant belief was that the woman was in the wrong and had invited assault upon herself. TEHELKA’s investigation, then, is not about individual viewpoints. It reveals a damagingly contorted psyche.
CAN YOU dress for rape? A great number of policemen believe that what a woman wears is one of the reasons for rape. A conservatively dressed woman is safe, but if her clothes are “suggestive”, then she’s asking for it. This is the norm.
“Agar koi bhi bacche ko kisi ladki ka shareer kapdon ke andar se dikhega to usme uttejna paida hogi…Ladkiya jo hai unko yahan tak yahan tak (he gestures to mean that women should cover their entire body, then carries on speaking)… Skirt pehenti hai. Blouse dalti hai; poora nahi dalti hai. Dupatta nahi dalti. Apne aapko dikhawa karti hai. Baccha uske taraf akarshit hota hai (If a girl is wearing transparent clothes it will encourage lewd thoughts in any kid. Girls wear short skirts. They wear a blouse that leaves nothing to the imagination. They don’t wear dupattas. They flaunt their bodies. The kid naturally gets attracted to her),” says Satbir Singh, Additional SHO of Sector 31 Police Station, Faridabad.
Making a general sociological observation, Sub-Inspector Arjun Singh, SHO of Surajpur Police Station, Greater Noida, also said: “Yeh (girl) itne kapde pehni hui hai; wo isiliye taaki log “mujhse akarshit ho aur mere saath kuch na kuch kare”. Isiliye ho jaati hai(She is dressed in a manner that people get attracted to her. In fact, she wants them to do something to her.)”
DO RAPES really happen? Many policemen are not even sure. Recognition of a crime as heinous as rape is something the police in the NCR do not appear to have come to terms with. Policeman after policeman insisted “real rape” cases were rare.
TEHELKA asked Yogender Singh Tomar, Additional SHO, Sector 39, Noida, if it was easy for a rape victim to approach the police. His answer left us shocked: “Aasaan nahi hota uske liye. Bezzati se sabhi darti hai. Akhbaar baazi se bhi darti hai. Asliyat main wahin aati hai jo dhande main lipt hoti hai (It’s never easy for the victim. Everyone is scared of humiliation. Everyone’s wary of media and society. In reality, the ones who complain are only those who have turned rape into a business).”
Sub-Inspector Roop Lal of Sector 40, Gurgaon, goes to the extent of making a distinction between a genuine and a fake rape. “Main rape cases, only 10 percent. Bilkul jo zabardasti rape hota hai, 10 percent. Baaki ke toh… (Only 10 percent of rape cases actually involve force; only 10 percent are genuine. The rest is…).” He leaves his sentence incomplete. It’s not difficult to understand what he wanted to say.
Roop Lal’s crudity is mirrored by other fellow officers. Two senior cops, Rajender Singh, Additional SHO of Old Faridabad Police Station, and Ramesh Kumar, senior sub inspector, are convinced rape cases generally involve consensual sex: “Hote hain par 70 percent aise hain, ki pehle sehmati ho gayi. Uske baad kisi ne dekh liya ya, usne paise dene se mana kar diya, toh woh balatkar ho gaya (There are cases but 70 percent involve consensual sex. Only if someone sees, or the money is denied, it gets turned into rape).”
From the point of view of cops, this begs the question: do rapes really happen? Again, bewildering as it may sound, 17 of the 30 policemen were convinced they rarely do.
Consider young Sub-Inspector Manoj Rawat of Noida’s Sector 24 Police Station.
“Kya NCR mein rape hote hain? Akhbar mein nahi, fact pe aa jao. NCR mein har cheez mutual understanding se hoti hai. Mera personal view, one ya two percent NCR mein rape hote hain… Apas ki understanding hai, nahi ban paya, jahan 2 tha, wahan 3 ho gaye (Are there any rapes in NCR? Go by facts and not by what newspapers say. Everything in NCR happens with mutual understanding. My personal view is that there are one or two percent rape cases in NCR. If the understanding falls through, the exaggeration begins. Two becomes three).”
When it comes to gang-rapes, the explanation is even more bizarre. While the policemen admit that force is used, again the blame is pinned on the victim. She must have been friendly with at least one of the perpetrators goes the refrain.
Dharamveer Singh, Additional SHO at Indirapuram Police Station in Ghaziabad, said: “Bahut kum, minimum hota hai. Rare hota hai ki ek ladki ko 10 ladke zabardasti pakad le… car mein bhi koi innocent ladki nahi gayi hai. Wahi gayi jo kisi ladke ke saath sambandhit zaroor hai (It’s very rare that a girl is forcefully picked up by 10 boys. A girl who gets into a car with boys is never innocent. If she does, she definitely has a relationship with at least one of them).”
There is a sweeping consensus in listing ‘indecent’ clothing as a primary cause for rape, followed closely by ‘behaviour’
Roop Lal of Sector 40, Gurgaon, sought to find a rationale to the occurrence of gang-rape: “Jaise hum log baithe hai, zyaada daaru pee li. Chalte peeli. Behnchodh, phekh saala, phir to aise hi hoga. Raat bhar rakh li. Uska jawab kya degi wo apne gharwalon ko, ki jo ek ghante ke liye keh kar gayi hai, aur poori night main kahan gayi thi. To maa-baap to poochenge, bhai bhi poochega. Jinka samaaj hai woh to poochte hai (Say we are sitting and had one drink too many while on the move… it’s obvious that it’ll happen. Keep her for the entire night. What will she tell her parents? She was supposed to be away for an hour and has ended up being out the entire night. Parents will question, so will her brother. Society will ask questions.”
RK Sisodia, Additional SHO of Sector 20 Noida Police Station, had an entirely different opinion on the authenticity of rape cases. He was the only one to say that very few rape cases in NCR are false or questionable in nature. It was almost a surprise to hear him.
SEVERAL POLICE officers believe it’s a woman’s behaviour that is a prime reason and if it were not for “provocation” from her end, rapes wouldn’t happen.
When asked about sensitisation in the police, Inspector Sunil Kumar of Delhi Police shrugged away the query, saying rape is anyway the girl’s fault, particularly if she is a ‘Delhi girl’: “If a girl living in Delhi doesn’t want this trauma she will not encourage it. Suppose you are two people and I am a girl dating you both. I am flirting with one person and ignoring you, then after I see you jealous, I come to you. Then one day when he (the other person) is drunk, he might come with two-three friends and ask me to join him. I will then go with him with my wish. In a fit of vindictiveness, he will try to have sex with me, with or without my wish. But first, it is my fault because I courted disaster. No rape can happen in Delhi without the girl’s provocation.”
Kumar had painted a scenario a script writer of a soap opera would find hard to concoct. Yet he believed — absolutely believed — this was everyday reality in large sections of Delhi society. Indeed, it appears as though there is almost a sweeping consensus in listing a woman’s “indecent” clothing as a primary cause for rape, followed closely by her “behaviour”, ranging from what they deemed promiscuous to just plain assertiveness. It’s almost as if a woman wearing a sari or a salwar kameez is never raped – though empirical evidence clearly suggests otherwise.