By Shaifali Agrawal:
On the 6th of September, during a protest march held by the Congress demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for his government’s alleged involvement in the coal scam,Â around fifty-four police officials and about two hundred and fifty Congress workers clashed together, leaving Pramila Padhi, a woman constable, assaulted and seriously injured. Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan apologised for the unfortunate incident of the assault on the woman constable which happened when Tytler asked his partymen to break the barricade, stating that Tytler asked the partymen to court arrest, which is not a kind of violence. He further stated that women police should not be deployed at the forefront and action should be taken against senior police officers who deployed women at sensitive places. According to Tytler, an assault on a woman is wrong. Bhupinder Singh of Congress said that people angry over BJD government’s misrule could have attacked the police constable.
Whoever might have assailed the woman constable, our main concern is the controversial statement given by Congress Chief Whip regarding deployment of women police at the forefront. It’s a shame that one of the leaders of the party which in itself is led by a woman like Sonia Gandhi is saying so. By stating this, did he mean to say that such an incident wouldn’t have taken place if there was no female constable present? Or did he mean that it wouldn’t have made news if a male constable was raided? It is the duty of the Government to maintain law and order during rallies and to protect the people participating in the rallies. So by saying this, Whip is shying away from his duty of controlling his partymen and blaming it on the women who are the victims and senior officers employing the women. Court arrest is not an instigation of violence, but if it leads to assaults, regardless of a person’s gender, it is to be criticised.
But it is a complex situation in a country like India, where I feel the injury of more than three hundred men would not have created such a ruckus than what a serious injury to a lady constable did. Also, I feel, men deliberately attacked Padhi in dozens with bamboo sticks, because she was a woman. Is it because it hurt their male sentiments to be taking orders from a female counterpart? Everything about this incident throws light on men’s unsubstantial wish to be showing their male dominance. Even blame-shifting on the victimized woman is a clear example of this.
But this is a sorry state, when in rallies, anybody can harm anybody and there is nothing but an apology heard afterwards to improve the condition. That the very patriarchal-driven statement of Mr Whip be taken into consideration to save women from physical onslaughts.