Will Mehar case go Jessica way? | india | Hindustan Times
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Will Mehar case go Jessica way?

FOR A short while, lights filtering on to the streets through the newly set up shopping malls led many into believing that Lucknow was shining. Until a bullet, fired by a criminal, stone?s-throw away from SSP Lucknow?s residence, pierced through a gutsy 50-year-old Mehar Bhargava, women had actually started moving in the night, feeling they were safe in the ?mall light?. Mehar challenged two armed criminals?Amit Singh and Sachin Pahari?for passing objectionable remarks at her daughter-in-law a couple of days back.

india Updated: Mar 04, 2006 00:31 IST

FOR A short while, lights filtering on to the streets through the newly set up shopping malls led many into believing that Lucknow was shining.

Until a bullet, fired by a criminal, stone’s-throw away from SSP Lucknow’s residence, pierced through a gutsy 50-year-old Mehar Bhargava, women had actually started moving in the night, feeling they were safe in the ‘mall light’.

Mehar challenged two armed criminals—Amit Singh and Sachin Pahari—for passing objectionable remarks at her daughter-in-law a couple of days back.

The incident took place at Dalippur Towers, whose residents had in the past informed the police about the arrival of several shady characters at the
residence of KD Singh, a gangster. There were complaints of eve-teasing too.

But police remained silent. Mehar didn’t.

The State capital incident is now building up a consensus from Lucknow to Delhi about the need to put up a united front.

Says Dr Amrita Dass, a prominent counselor of the city: “The civil society has to stand up to be counted. Witness protection is a must. Don’t allow Mehar’s assailants to get away like Jessica Lal’s. Judicial and police accountability has to be ensured.”

She adds, “Systemic changes are needed to wash the woeful state of affairs.”

Dr Dass is doing her bit by sending sms-es to “friends and acquaintances” urging them to put up a united front and ensure that Mehar’s attackers are brought to book.

Agreed Jyotsna Chatterjee, president of Joint Women’s Programme, New Delhi, talking to HT Live on phone, “The attitude of people towards women which showed signs of improving for a while has touched its nadir.

Criminals are shooting at Jessicas and Mehars and the police, part of the patriarchal set-up, is proving that their ‘We Care’ slogan is hollow.”

Dr Vikram, a close friend of the Bhargavas, says, “In all probability, Mehar’s assailants would go away scot-free. We know how witnesses turn hostile. There would be hardly anyone willing to testify against hardened criminals.”

Additional advocate general, Jaideep Narain Mathur, on being asked how hardened criminals got away with murder, said, “I think the prosecution is to be blamed. What we need is a thorough investigation. There can be conviction only if facts are ready.” Also, he added, the standard of lawyers has to improve. The lawyers have to be sensitive.”

So, is the social structure crumbling?

“Absolutely,” agreed Mathur, adding, “Stop glamourising arms, check twice before issuing arms licenses and above all take a vow not to tolerate crime.”

Principal of La Martinere Girls College Farida Abraham termed the Mehar incident as “dangerous for the civil society” while Annie Sinha, who runs an NGO in Delhi felt, “public opinion has to be mobilised.”

Says Athar Siddiqui, secretary, Lucknow First and a close friend of the Bhargavas, “We would try to spread awareness through our campaigns in schools. People have to speak up.” Chander Prakash, former chief warden, Lucknow suggested, “effective deterrents have to be put in place to instill fear among criminals.”

People are speaking up now. And this people’s voice, probably, is our only hope.