Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde said the role of the law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system have come in for critical comment after the December 16 brutal gang-rape and assault here of a 23-year-old woman, who died in a Singapore hospital last week.
"These kinds of incidents and rage against women and weaker sections of our society are unacceptable to our democracy. These need to be curbed with an iron hand," he said, addressing a conference of country's top bureaucrats and the police brass convened in the wake of the Delhi gangrape incident.
Shinde said even after 65 years of country's independence, crimes against women and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have not declined despite having various legislations to check criminals.
"We need a reappraisal of the entire system, the role of all our stakeholders, the adequacy of our laws, the effectiveness of enforcement at the cutting edge level, the need for increased awareness and sensitivity starting at the school level and covering all people residing at the margins of our society," he said.
The Home Minister said it was apparent that legislations were only one part of the solution but the principal difficulty lies at the implementation level where sometimes the ground realities become a barrier for effective implementation of the law.
"Prompt action against all offenders of crime will alone bring about respect of law. Our primary objective is to identify such barriers, suggest modifications required in our law and in the procedures and methodology of investigation, so that the trial concluded early and the guilty punished in a time-bound manner," he said.
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Shinde said the tradition of India symbolises every women as mother, spouse and daughter and it is well established by all cultures and religions that disrespect for women and violence against them are a gross manifestation of corrupt minds.
"It is simply unacceptable that the women in our society should live in fear and anxiety. The responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all citizens lie with the government," the Home Minister said.
Shinde hoped that the day-long conference will ensure that everyone apply their mind and energies in a coherent manner towards a safe society where crime against women and atrocities against SCs and STs would an isolated incident.
Minister of State for Home RPN Singh said the best tribute to the Delhi gangrape victim would be to ensure that such an incident does not occur again.
"The entire country is watching us with great expectations, we cannot fail their hopes. I think we need to set the agenda here with two words 'zero tolerance'. Zero tolerance for molestation, for acid attacks, for any kind of assault and the change must begin here," he said.
Singh said change must come at several different levels in the making of laws which is the legislature's responsibility and the implementation, which is the state's and police's responsibility.
"Yet even the best law in the world cannot succeed if the will is not there to make sure it is implemented on the ground. The unfortunate reality today is that the people of India specially women, SCs and STs feel unsafe and unprotected. This is what we must change," he said. PTI ACB SC 01041404 NNNN