The home ministry wants to upload a list of rapists, detailed with their names, photos and addresses, on its website. Publicly disgracing them so will “shame” future rapists and keep them from assaulting women, it has reasoned. This list, however, almost runs the risk of overlapping with another list — that of our elected representatives.
Six MLAs in the country have rape charges against them, and another 36 have been accused of other crimes against women.
Of the 36 MLAs charged with crimes against women — outraging modesty, assault and others — four are from Maharashtra. While two belong to the Shiv Sena, one is from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the last from the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS).
These findings were made public in a report released recently by the National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms. The report is based on the facts stated by the elected representatives in their affidavits, which they swore by at the time of filing nomination.
The four MLAs from the state are Atul Deshkar of the BJP, Dadaji Bhuse and Prakash Sawant from the Sena, and Harshwardhan Jadhav from the MNS. All of them have a common charge against them, the ‘charge related to word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman’ under section 509 of the Indian Penal Code.
MiD DAY’s best efforts to contact the four MLAs put us in touch with one, Sena’s Dadaji Bhuse, while the other three remained unavailable.
Asked how atrocities against women can be curbed in the country, Bhuse gave some textbook remedies. “Law should be made strict. There needs to be a shift in outlook. People need to change,” he said. When we brought his attention to one of the charges against him, one that has to do with outraging the modesty of a woman, Bhuse said, “I was framed. There were some government professors who were campaigning for the rival candidate in 2004, which was against their duty rules. Miffed, they went ahead and filed a complaint against me. I was proved innocent later.”
He claimed he was acquitted after the victim herself admitted in court that he had done nothing.
Sawant, Deshkar and Jadhav, in spite of our repeated attempts, could not be contacted for comment. We spoke to their party spokespersons who maintained that their chosen candidates were clean, or framed.
Rahul Narvekar, spokesperson for the Shiv Sena said, “The Sena does a thorough background check before giving tickets. Whenever such cases come up, we judge them at face value also. Many times, such charges are politically motivated, even during protest. The party takes due caution before giving tickets.”
Sudhir Mungantiwar, BJP state president, claimed that the party MLA named in the list is clean. “Our party follows a strict policy of giving tickets only to clean candidates. On most occasions, such charges are filed by people from rival camps. I wasn’t aware of any such charge against Atul (Deshkar). He’s a very sober person,” said Mungantiwar.
The spokesperson for MNS, MLA Nitin Sardesai, when asked about the charges against his colleague Jadhav, first said he had no knowledge about the charges.
Later, though, he said, “I will not be able to comment unless I have full information. In future, we will deal with such situations on a case-by-case basis.”
Atul Deshkar - BJP
Dadaji Bhuse - Shiv Sena
Prakash Sawant - Shiv Sena
Harshwardhan Jadhav - MNS
The 42 MLAs who have disclosed in their affidavits that they have been charged with crimes against women, some including rape:
Shribhagwan Sharma, Mohd Aleem Khan, Anoop Sanda, Manoj Kumar Paras, Dr Rita Joshi, Ramveer Singh, Uday Raj Rajaram
Dr Nrusingha Sahu, Masheshwari Mohanty, Shibaji Majhi, Pradeep Maharathy, Bhimsen Chaudhary, Sameer Ranjan Dash, Pratap Chandra
Becharam Manna, Wilson Champramary, Deepak Kumar Halder, Bhupendranath Halder (Arjun), Biswajeet Das, Dr Harka Bahadur Chettri, Ashoke Mal
Atul Deshkar, Bhuse Dadaji Dagadu, Harshwardhan Jadhav, Prakash (Bala) Sawant
Chamra Linda, Bandhu Tirkey, Banna Gupta
Mohan Singh Bisht, Shoaib Iqbal
Naval Kishore, Bharosi Lal
Kandikunta V Prasad, Prabhakar Chintamaneni
Ranjeet Singh Dhillon
Ram Balak Singh
Abul Kalam Azad
Jethabhai G Ahir