Yesterday, this paper ran a front page report on how a group of men who abused five journalists (four female, one male) employed with the paper, were treated by the police.
The front page picture shows a cop shaking hands with the accused in a friendly manner. This is after three of the six men surrendered voluntarily to the Bhoiwada police station, after an FIR was lodged in the case.
These men had abused the journalists in the filthiest language possible at Aditi Veg Restaurant in Parel. The Bhoiwada police arrested three men, Shashank Suresh Kalyankar, a Kalwa resident, Jaisingh Mahadeo Indulkar, resident of Ghatkopar, and Shashikant Shantaram Bawlekar, a resident of Vikhroli.
It is shocking to see the police shaking hands with the accused after they were granted bail at the police station. If those who verbally assault journalists are cosseted by the police, what hope is there for the common person, the common woman who does not have the connections to pick up a phone and call the commissioner of police for some action?
This picture sends a completely wrong message to the public and raises a big question mark over how those accused of assault against women are treated.
It is perhaps the worst picture of the police in the current climate of anger against assaults on women. It once again proves that despite reassurances and guarantees that women would be protected if they speak out, there are still doubts over their safety and concern at the way the crime is viewed.
It is seen as flippant and reinforces the stereotype that the authorities tend to sweep these things under the carpet, like society, these assaults are often trivialised. It is a strong message of discouragement towards women who are just picking up the courage to file complaints against sexual abuse.
Yet again, a common person is justified in thinking that it is because the abused are journalists that some action has been taken and there was a photographer present on the premises to record this gross ‘friendly’ handshake.
The journalists also stated in the report how police officers were mingling with the accused, even letting them use their phones to make calls. Mr Rakesh Maria & Co, do you still need to wonder why despite everything, ordinary women are so afraid and reluctant to complain about harassment, verbal or physical and assault?