roof of innocence is the absence (or the elimination) of complainants. That appears to remain the mantra of powerful people accused of crimes, even heinous ones, in many an instance. The accident that the woman who alleged rape by Kuldeep Singh Sengar, the now-expelled and imprisoned Uttar Pradesh BJP MLA elected from Bangarmau, met with while on her way from Unnao to Rae Bareli is a case in point. Devender Kishore Pal, the owner of the truck that rammed into the car in which the ‘rape survivor’ and her family had been travelling has denied even knowing who Sengar is. He claimed that it was just an unfortunate accident. He has also reportedly stated that grease was applied to the number plates of the truck to evade action by lenders over default on payment of EMIs. The CBI court hearing the matter had ordered the trucker and the cleaner to be subject to narco analysis August 11. Doubts linger even as the young woman, who was moved to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi from a hospital in Lucknow, is receiving treatment for injuries sustained in the mishap. The CBI, in the meantime, has handed over a list of 18 witnesses who will be provided protection to the district administration. It may be too little, too late. Such instances are not new in India. The country has seen attempts being made by perpetrators of crime on the lives of complainants. One such instance was that of Shanmugam Manjunath who was a sales officer for the Indian Oil Corporation. He was murdered November 19, 2005, after he sealed two fuel stations in Lakhimpur Kheri, Uttar Pradesh, for three months as they had been selling adulterated fuel. Manjunath reportedly conducted a surprise raid on one of the pumps a month later as it was operating in violation of the sealing order. The sales officer was later found dead in his car, which was being driven by two of the petrol pump employees, shot at, at least six times. More such cases dot the annals of history in India. Most recently, Café Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha was found dead in River Netravati. He committed suicide, going by a letter he wrote to members of his company’s board and employees July 27, four days before his body was fished out of the river. However, Siddhartha’s letter pointed to pressure from a private equity partner over sale of Mindtree shares that led him to end his life. It appears from different accounts, including those of employees of Café Coffee Day, that Siddhartha was a conscientious entrepreneur who saw to it that the pressure on him did not percolate down to the staff. They did not face any disruption in pay despite his difficulties, according to some reports. The legal system in the country is still slave to the influence of the powerful. The ‘VIP’ culture may have disappeared in their earlier manifestations as red beacons or other paraphernalia but the mindset and the culture continues to exist. It is no more limited to politicians any more. Bureaucrats and top business people have joined in the fun. Coteries and nexus operate with impunity giving crime a free run. Victims of crimes perpetrated by the powerful should be given due protection to ensure that their voices are not stifled or silenced. Sadly India remains as before. May be the present situation has further worsened and any voice of protest can easily be twisted when the whole atmosphere is charged with a false sense of pride and glory for irrelevant or non-existent issues.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement to allow free travel for women in public transport buses in the capital from...Read more