Women’s safety comes last at police stations across the state. This feeling has gained ground after sub-inspector Kamta Prasad Awasthi molested a woman at his residential quarters on the Mall police station campus in Lucknow on Wednesday night.
As a result, most women in the state say they will not want to go a police station alone. And some of them have harrowing tales to tell.
A 38-year-old woman of Kanpur says, "My eight-year-old daughter was raped. When I went to the police, they told me to take back the complaint otherwise they would do (to me) what had happened to my daughter."
Suman Dixit, 45, recalls the police misbehaved with her when she sought help.
"My in-laws used to beat me up for petty reasons. When I went to complain about it, the policemen abused me and asked me to leave the station. All my efforts were in vain and I had to put up with the beatings," she laments.
Even those who have not faced such hostility, have a low opinion about the atmosphere at police stations.
"I would not feel too comfortable inside a police station. The police do not seem to have the kind of image where you can go ask for help," says Anamika Upadhyay, a final year student of Amity University.
"The atmosphere that has been created by the police would make me hesitant in going to them," says Aksha Srivastava, 17, a resident of Vikas Nagar in Lucknow.
Sending young women alone to a police station is like inviting danger, feel most of the parents. "It would be foolish to let my daughter go alone to a police station," says businessman Avinash Mishra.
"I would not even let my son go to the police station alone, let alone my daughter. The cops need to be trained in etiquettes first," says Reema Mishra, a housewife. Nisha Dixit, a pharmacy student, says her first impression of a police station was dreadful.
She had gone to a police station to lodge a complaint about her lost SIM card. "The police repeatedly blamed my parents for giving me a mobile phone. They asked irrelevant questions and made me sit there for hours," she recalls.
Geeta Yadav, a MA second year student at the Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj University (CSJMU), advises women to go to police stations only if they have in-depth knowledge of criminal procedures and remedies.
Recalling a recent incident in her neighbourhood, she says, a five-yearold girl was allegedly kidnapped in the evening and left on an overbridge late at night. “The police personnel tried their best to shoo the pleading mother away and pretended as if nothing had happened,” she says. “They did not provide any medical aid to the victim.” The complaint was registered only after a request to the DIG, Kanpur.
Pratima, 36, a housewife from Gujaini in Kanpur, says, “My in-laws were harassing me. When I went to the police, they refused to file a complaint. They told me to deal with the issue at home and threatened to put me behind bars if I went to them again.”
Raghini Srivastava, 51, a teacher at a prominent public school in Varanasi, says, "even under adverse circumstances, I cannot think of visiting a police station to lodge a complaint."
Reckoning that police stations are unsafe, Shakshi Singh, 20, a BA firstyear student at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), refers to the incident "in Lakhimpur Kheri where a teenage girl was raped and murdered by the men in khaki at the police station."