A public avalanche of anger has hit India's streets since a young medical student was raped by six men on a bus in Delhi on Sunday night. They first harassed Amanat (not her real name), then hit her friend who tried to intervene; when she tried to protect him, they turned their focus on her, attacking her so badly with an iron rod that most of her intestines have been removed and her doctors are not sure if she will survive.
Today, the Home Secretary, RK Singh, assigned to head a committee on improving safety in the capital, said, "There is no reason for the Delhi Police to be defensive. They have investigated and caught five of the six culprits. If we think dispassionately, any case cracked in one or two days is brilliant work." Mr Singh also said that the government has decided to close all bars and discotheques in the city by 1 am, including on the New Year's Eve.
His remarks come as the Delhi Police is being furiously criticised, not just for its long-standing record of turgid ineffectiveness, but because policemen failed to stop the bus as it drove through multiple check points along a 34-km route,while the woman and her friend were being attacked on board. The bus had "School" painted in white lettering on its side; it had tinted windows, illegal in Delhi. Yet, nobody thought to pull over a school bus that was on the roads late at night with its curtains drawn.
The first indication the police had of the heinous attack was when a passer-by phoned in to say that a couple was lying bleeding and semi-naked near a flyover in South Delhi. The police then collected the pair and headed to hospital.
"The PCR (police) Van arrived at the spot in 4 minutes, I think that is outstanding," the Home Secretary said. "Was the investigation prompt and effective? Yes it was," he said at a press conference. "So while we have not said no one will be held accountable, prima facie, on both counts, police cannot be faulted."
His defense of the police is in sharp contrast to Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who pointed out in an interview to NDTV that the police in the capital does not report to her, but to the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi. "I don't have the power to transfer even one constable," she said, "but if police were under me I would have suspended a few policemen."