Guwahati: Assam government today said it would introduce a stringent anti-rape law in the next session of the state Assembly, and recruit women sub-inspectors through a special drive to fulfil the aim of 30 per cent women in the police force. “Please give me all your suggestions in writing. We will discuss these with legal experts to frame a stringent law against rape. We will place the bill in the next Assembly session,” Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said in the House.
Taking part in a Zero Hour discussion in the Assembly, he said rising cases of rapes were of serious concern. “It is a big challenge and we all must work together. Swami Vivekananda had said that unless women are safe, the society cannot be safe. Such miscreants cannot be allowed to stay in the society… The people of the state want a strict law and exemplary punishment in such crimes,” Sonowal said.
Talking about women in the police force, he said that at present, the number of women are less in number compared to men. “We have decided to have 30 per cent women in the police. We will have a special drive to recruit women sub-inspectors to achieve this goal,” Sonowal said.
He said the state government has arrested almost all the culprits behind recent rape cases, asked police to prepare error-free chargesheets to convict the guilty, set up fast trcak courts for day-to-day hearings, formed a women’s cell at the DGP office and rolled out a toll-free helpline for women.
Earlier, in a special gesture, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami allowed only women members to speak on the issue, and unanimously they demanded provision of death penalty in the anti-rape law that the state government proposed to bring in.
“The recent gang rape of a minor girl and her killing by burning her alive shook the entire state. Rapes are happening serially in the state and it is rising in Assam. Why is happening and why is it rising? The culprits have no age, caste, religion, language,” BJP MLA Angoorlata Deka said.
Because of the loopholes in the current laws, the accused persons get free easily and commit such crimes again, she said. Congress MLA Nandia Das cited government data to highlight that crime against women in Assam are on the rise over the last two years, while the rate of conviction is low.
“Out of the 3,009 rapes that took place in in the last two years, only 1,786 persons have been arrested. Out of which, a mere 76 were punished after filing chargesheets against 1,697 accused,” Das said. BPF Kamali Basumatary said, “We are forced to think that women are not safe in India. We have laws, but still culprits get free. So, is the public punishment solution? Handover the culprits to women…,”.
Congress MLAs Ajanta Neog and Roselina Tirkey demanded death penalty for rape accused, while AGP legislator Renupoma Rajkhowa spoke about strengthening the Women’s Commission in the state. As there is no women MLA from AIUDF, MLA Aminul Islam spoke on behalf of his party and requested the chief minister to have provision of death sentence in the anti-rape law.
The entire issue was raised and discussed in the backdrop of the March 23 gang rape and killing of a minor girl at Dhaniabheti Lalung Gaon in Nagaon district.