A Dispute Over Jurisdiction

DNA has a story today about an incident that took place last evening in Delhi. At about 8.30pm, two teachers, a man and a woman, stepped out of a computer training institute in Sultanpuri in West Delhi. Three ruffians started eve-teasing harassing the woman. The man with her, named Prakash, protested, and got beaten up. And the woman was dragged away. Here’s the next line of the news report:

Although Prakash was quick to alert the police, tracing the victim took time because of a dispute over jurisdiction between officers of Nangloi and Sultanpuri police stations. When finally the girl was found, it was too late. She was lying near the tracks in a bruised condition.

Naturally, she had been gang-raped. All while the cops were busy in “a dispute over jurisdiction”.

This is hardly an unusual story. Such petty bureaucracy is common in India, and our cops are generally an apathetic lot. Indeed, if you’re not well heeled or well connected, you’d be lucky getting any help from them at all. They are tenured and unaccountable, and I guarantee you that no action will be taken against the policemen who argued about technicalities yesterday while a woman was being raped down by the railway tracks.

So why would they care?

Update: I’ve replaced the phrase ‘eve-teasing’ in the post with ‘harassing’ because of the following email I received from my friend Nilanjana Roy (quoted with permission):

I’m not usually an advocate of politically correct speech, but shouldn’t we reconsider using terms like eve-teasing? I know we all do, this is India, but I have hated that term for years for its inaccuracy. Having been at the receiving end of “eve-teasing”, I’d say it’s a combination of verbal abuse and physical assault, and that even “molestation” doesn’t cover the actual effects that kind of aggression has on the victim. “Harassing”, “threatening” or “assaulting” might be better equivalents.

Dead right. We use the term out of habit, but it’s imprecise—and I’m hardly surprised that a lit critic was the one to point out this imprecision to me! Another word I can think of that gives an innocuous tinge to a major social problem: ‘Ragging’.

Update 2: Thanks to Twitter, I’ve discovered that the “dispute over jurisdiction” was actually against the rules. @gkjohn’s query about this was answered by @mumbaicentral thus: (1, 2):

1. … one Police Station can go wherever it wants to nab a suspect. Here any PS could have lodged FIR and caught the guys.

2. 5(c), FIR Format “In case occurrence outside limit of this PS”. Such situations have been envisaged: these guys were just assholes.

So there you have it.

And Twitter rocks. You guys following me yet?