Kotkhai rape: Himachal Police special units short of women staffers
After the allegedly botched up investigations led to an unprecedented public outcry, the police are now planning to post more women staff in the grossly understaffed intelligence and crime investigation department.india Updated: Jul 18, 2017 15:01 IST
Even as a global petition on the rape and murder of a schoolgirl in Shimla district’s Kotkhai tehsil raised questions about women’s safety, various units of Himachal Pradesh, particularly crime investigating departments, are facing an acute shortage of women staffers.
After the allegedly botched up investigations led to an unprecedented public outcry, the police are now planning to post more women staff in the grossly understaffed intelligence and crime investigation department (CID). The CID has a staff strength of 657 comprising both personnel and officials. Most of the women staffers are deputed on office duties, and are not directly involved in investigations.
Public outrage against the gory crime has not only put the government in the dock, it has also raised questions about police efficiency. The Special Investigation Team (SIT) set up under Inspector General of Police (South range) Zahur Zaidi, following the initial protests, also had no women officers. The SIT arrested six persons and concluded that the girl was raped in the isolated woods of Haliala forest. But what muddied the waters was that those arrested did not include persons whose photos went viral on Facebook after they were uploaded on chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s FB page only to be removed later.
“SIT should have had a woman officer. I have strongly called for increasing the strength of women staff in CID,” former Himachal Pradesh director general of police (DGP) ID Bhandari told HT. “At least 20% of the CID staff should be women,” said Bhandari, who led the CID department for long before his superannuation three years ago.
Falma Chauhan, state vice president of Janwadi Mahila Sangthan, said women in Himachal are feeling insecure. “Women safety in Himachal is at risk. The government should take steps to instil security amongst them,” she said.
Women staffers comprise only 20% of the police force. In 2014, the HP government had announced that it would set up all-woman police stations across the state. So far, they are functional only in Shimla, Kullu and Dharamshala.
Himachal Pradesh DGP, Somesh Goyal, parried questions on inadequate women staff in CID. “The responsibility for women-related crimes rests largely with the districts, which have mahila police stations as well as anti-human trafficking units (AHTUs). Women police personnel have been made available for mahila battalions in all the districts,” he said.
July 4: Gudiya (name changed) goes missing
July 5: Her relatives launch a manhunt to locate her
July 6: Her body found in woods.
July 7: Her murder leads to protest in Shimla and Kotkhai.
July 8: Locals set a five-day deadline for the police to nab culprits
July 9: Police constitute SIT under IG south
July 12: Police detain six youths for questioning
July 13: Police arrest six persons
July 14: Mob vandalises police station in Theog
July 14: Government refers matter to CBI
July 15: Massive protest on Shimla’s Ridge ground