Crimes against women endemic in Bengal

SIR, ~ Apropos your strong editorial, “Gangrape and murder” (14 June), there is no denying that from one political dispensation to another, the surge in crimes against women even in the vicinity of the railway station and the kutchery as in Barasat, has assumed almost alarming proportions. Two months prior to the 2011 Assembly elections, a youth was killed in the same town for trying to save his sister from the clutches of eve-teasers. It is shocking that in a little over two years, no fewer than 14 cases of eve-teasing have reportedly been registered in the town&’s police stations.
Crimes against women are not a recent phenomenon. They do occur at regular intervals in different parts of the state and the country. Apart from the phenomenal increase in population, lack of sustained police vigilance is largely responsible for the spurt in crimes against women, and not only in the headquarters of West Bengal&’s North 24-Parganas district. The problem is now endemic in this state. Rape and molestation used to happen even during the heyday of the CPI-M regime, notably the outrage at Bantala. Yet the state administration was generally indifferent. Cases of eve-teasing and molestation were often settled at the para level. These were not even referred to the police station thanks to the Left&’s organisational influence.
Trinamul Congress lacks the organisational strength at the thana/mahalla level to nip such crimes in the bud. Besides, as rightly pointed out in your editorial, the surge in crimes against women may just be a manifestation of the overall social malaise. The problem has to be tackled at the socio-economic level by opening up more employment opportunities after imparting vocational guidance, if necessary. The hooch dens that have mushroomed all over the state must be dismantled by the police. Such a crackdown presupposes strict vigilance, which is now lacking. There is no denying that basic policing has virtually collapsed. most particularly in the vulnerable parts of Barasat. The other towns of the state are no less affected. Crimes against women know no inter-district border. The problem is endemic in West Bengal.
yours, etc., arun kumar bhaduri, kolkata, 15 june.

Confront the ‘misguided’
SIR, ~ The political class has become extremely concerned about its security and safety in the aftermath of the latest Maoist outrage in Chhattisgarh. At an all-party meeting recently, the Prime Minister stressed the need to further finetune and strengthen the strategy to countenance the Maoists. However, he stopped short of spelling out the measures, still less the method of execution. Mr Manmohan Singh said that the misguided objective of overthrowing parliamentary democracy and the Constitution would be dangerous for the country. Yet it must be conceded that a group of misguided people cannot  destroy the country&’s democratic foundation. If the government delays stronger action in the absence of a fresh blueprint of action, the Maoists might well consolidate their position. The mayhem in Chhattisgarh is an example.
Governments both at the Centre and in the states have increased their spending on development in the country&’s districts affected by Left-wing extremism (LWE). Yet the fact remains that the benefits have, in many states, eluded the target group. There is also a trust deficit between the tribals and the government, as Mr P Chidambaram had once admitted when he was the Union home minister.
At this juncture, the question of mobilising the armed forces does not arise. The country is not facing the danger of a civil war just yet. Many innocent people might get killed in the event of a military offensive. Unscrupulous politicians may take advantage of this complex situation and  some of our neighbouring countries may seek to destabilise the country in the event of an internal conflict between a section of the populace and the military.
The crisis calls for a concerted response by the political class. The parties must unite and act with utmost honesty, sincerity, and fairness. They must set an example of sacrifice and assist the policy-makers who formulate the welfare handouts. A peaceful option still seems to be a long way away. Nevertheless, the Centre must come up with a suitable response.
yours, etc., d k choudhury, howrah, 12  june.

The ordinance route
SIR, ~ This is in response to KP Jhunjhunwala&’s letter, “Ordinance fraud”, published on 18 June. He has based his conclusions on his interaction with slum-dwellers. The idea of getting something “free” denotes a measure of condescension. Whether it is free education or distribution of food, it is quality that is invariably compromised with. Substantial is the risk of “free education” churning out spurious certificates devoid of any value. Availability of free food might make the beneficiaries lazy and inactive.
  It might preclude the need to work to earn a decent income and improve the quality of one&’s life. To advance benefits on a permanent basis is not on the agenda of the United Progressive Alliance. Its single-point agenda is to stay in power. Once promulgated, it will be very difficult for the political parties to resist the enactment. The Congress will then go to the people, saying that some parties are trying to deprive you of food.
yours, etc., n k das gupta, kolkata, 17 june.