Even as the gang rape in Delhi has led to a week-long outrage across the country, the state cabinet that met on Wednesday did not see it fit to bring up the issue of women’s safety.
None of the cabinet ministers raised the subject of the spate in incidents of violence against women in the state or discuss policy changes required to improve the situation.
Home minister RR Patil, who has spoken of requesting the high court to set up 25 fast-track courts to handle only rape cases in the state, chose, in the cabinet, to focus his attention and ire on the state power company Mahavitaran for cutting power connections to water supply schemes. Incidentally, three water supply schemes in Patil’s hometown Tasgaon may face the cut because of this move.
Women and child development minister Varsha Gaikwad, who on Wednesday announced the launch of a campaign this month to spread awareness on issues such as child rights and dowry deaths, also did not bring up the topic.
“This shows callousness. The gang rape and the resulting public anger should have been an opportunity for the state government to make its position on women’s safety clear,’’ said Surendra Jondhale, a professor of political science at Mumbai university.
“Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan is responsive and seems serious about tackling such issues. His cabinet, however, is apathetic,’’ said Venkatesh Kumar, a political analyst. Chavan had held two review meetings with senior home department officials on women’s safety this week.
Even government officials were surprised that no one chose to comment on the matter.
“I think there is a disconnect between political leaders and the public at large. A major part of the cabinet’s time is wasted on discussing non-issues and political infighting,’’ said a senior bureaucrat.
In the last week alone, two gruesome cases of violence against women have been reported in Mumbai, with one women being stabbed by a sickle in a case of mistaken identity and another involving a 21-year-old who died after being stabbed by her classmate.