In a bizarre development, the Uttarakhand government has passed an order that prohibits women from working beyond 6 pm in private and government jobs.
The step is being seen as too extreme to curb crimes against women.
The state government is being severly criticised for this regressive approach, and the opposition is objecting to the directive.
The Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna-led state government has reportedly taken the step in the wake of the gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi late last month. The woman was repeatedly raped inside a dark tinted glass moving bus, and suffered gruesome injuries. She had to be eventually flown out to Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital, but succumbed after a battle for survival of 13 days.
In the wake of the December 16 gangrape incident, there has been a flurry of media revelations regarding incidents of rape across the country.
The reports have prompted several state governments and the central government to fine tune the laws of the country regarding rape and other sexual crimes against women. Several commissions, headed by retired judges, have also been set up to discuss the problem threadbare and to come out with recommendations for change. The police is also under pressure to improve its responses to the general public on issues of law and order as well as crimes.
Congress distances itself from Uttarakhand Govt. order on women, BJP criticises
Uttarakhand government’s bizarre decision has invited criticism both from the Congress and the BJP.
Reacting to the state government’s decision here on Saturday, Union Waters Resources Minister and Congress leader from Uttarakhand Harish Rawat said: “Issuing such guidelines that when should they (women) go out and till what time they should work is not a fair step. It is not going to work.”
“I think stricter laws should be made and enforcement agencies should be held accountable to ensure swift and harsh punishment for the culprits. We will have to change the mentality. We will have to come up with a broader social campaign to change the mentality of society to stop such crimes,” added Rawat.
Taking a jibe at the state government, BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain advised Chief Minister Bahuguna not to go out after 6 pm if he feels so scared.
“Instead of improving the law and order situation in the state, they are putting out a ‘Talibani’ diktat that women should not go out of their houses after six p.m. Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi should take cognizance of this matter and she should ask the chief minister what he means by making such remarks,” said Hussain.
Another BJP spokesperson, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said that such dictatorship by governments or by the police will make the women feel more unsafe.
BJP leader Balbir Punj asked Bahuguna to resign as his government was not being able to provide better security for women in the state.
“By making such statements, the Chief Minister has admitted his inability to run the government and establish law and order in the state, and he actually feels that the government may not provide security to women, he must resign from the office,” said Punj.
Former Chief Minister of Uttarakhand and BJP leader Bhagat Singh Koshiyari said the Congress is not capable of running a government.
“It shows that the state government is incapable of providing security to women. Tomorrow, the government will stop them from going out of their homes. Instead of passing such laws, criminals should be scared of committing crimes. The government is prohibiting women,” claimed Koshiyari.
“If the authorities work properly, such incidents don’t take place. We will have to spread awareness and teach ethics and values to young people. People in authority should also be alert and work properly,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has denied issuing such guidelines that restrict women from going out, and said: “ It is the responsibility of the management of the organisation where they work, to take care of the women employees and they should drop them at door steps if they get late.”
“There is no restriction on women and children, but the organization they are working at should drop them at their doorsteps if they get late while coming home. We will provide every possible security, but it is not our responsibility to drop them home,” said Bahuguna.
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