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NCW flays police for `cold response' to girl's complaint

By Our Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADA, JUNE 24. The fact-finding committee deputed by the National Commission for Women (NCW) to investigate the murder of the MCA student, Sri Lakshmi, at the Sarada College in the city has found fault with the police and the management of the college for their "cold response" to the girl's complaints.

The NCW member, Nirmala Sitaraman, said here on Thursday that while the committee had not completed its investigation, it was evident that the college, the police and other systems had not responded to Sri Lakhmi's problem and left her to fight a "lone battle."

"Despite the presence of numerous mechanisms, the girl could not be saved. It is a big shame. She paid with her life for standing up for herself. The system could not give her any support. There have been lapses and the existing systems did not work efficiently. Sri Lakshmi was even denied first-aid, a fundamental necessity," Ms. Sitaraman said. She asked the police and district administration to take steps to build confidence among people before the colleges reopened.

She said that NCW was waging a battle against obscenity in television programmes. But the channels, she said, quoted "non-existent" popularity ratings to counter the commission's arguments. She urged social workers and civil societies to prepare a list of obscene television programmes aired between 6 pm and 8 pm in July and forward it to the NCW. The commission would collect such reports from the entire country and compile them to build a case for their censorship, she said.

She lauded the "instantaneous response" of people of the city and the State to the incident. She said public resentment and anger gave the NCW team "the strength" to tell the new Police Commissioner, T. Krishna Prasad, to make women's security a priority. She urged the police chief to involve college managements and every citizen in the exercise.

Ms. Sitaraman said the committee had demanded that the police review eve-teasing cases every month and check the number of offenders who were prosecuted. She urged police to be proactive with regard to women's security. "No girl should be discouraged from going to college on this account. All our efforts will be wasted if that happens," she said. She said the NCW would ask universities, through the UGC, not to renew the affiliation of colleges that did not constitute a complaints' committee to deal with sexual harassment.

The universities would also be asked not to recognise new colleges that did not have such a committee.

She said it was the NCW's "mission" was to ensure that every institution had a complaints' committee.

The Supreme Court had issued guidelines for the constitution of such committees in the Visakha Case in 1999, but most institutions did not them in place even today, she said. She added that she was sorry to find that the Vijayawada Police Department also did not have such a committee.

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