There were nationwide protests across India on Monday in which common citizens expressed outrage over the gruesome murder of a 27-year-old veterinary doctor after gang rape in the city of Hyderabad. Her charred body was found on November 28 morning.
The outrage was reflected in Parliament, when members, cutting across party lines, demanded tough provisions in law to deal with such rapists. Several MPs, including Jaya Bachchan, called for public lynching and castration. Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu suggested that such convicts should not be allowed to file mercy petitions and capital punishment should be meted out in the least possible time.
"What is required is not a new bill, what is required is political will, administrative skill and then change of mindset and then go in for the kill of this social evil", said the Rajya Sabha chairman. I fully agreed with Naidu's view that the provision of allowing mercy petitions by such convicts should be discontinued, and if the courts convict such criminals, they should be hanged immediately, without any more hearings, without any delay and without showing any mercy.
We cannot imagine the amount of anger and fear that is the present in the minds of women in India. Wherever I go, women, particularly girls, invariable ask me questions on women's safety. They ask the simple question: what is the government doing for our safety?
Whenever such horrendous incidents occur, starting from the infamous Nirbhaya gang rape in Delhi in 2012, there had been outrage, massive street protests, there had been change in laws pertaining to rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment. Stringent provisions for punishment were made in law on the recommendations of late Justice J. S. Verma, special fast track courts were set up, convictions were given, but when the convicts are yet to be hanged even seven years after the act, then questions and doubts arise in the mind of people, particularly women.
It is then that people demand that harsher laws like those applied in North Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia and China are enforced in India too. People even demand that the rapists be handed over to lynch mobs, that they should be hanged publicly, that they should be physically castrated. Such demands would not have arisen had the enforcement of law been swifter.
So long as convicts get the leeway through provision of mercy petition, or on grounds of being minor, how can society create fear in the minds of such rapists? It is now the right time to decide that provisions of mercy petitions from such convicts be done away with, and they should be hanged immediately.
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