‘No idea’, say officials on units to combat crimes against women

Iqbal Kirmani

Srinagar: Even though five months have passed since the Indian Union Home Ministry in its letter to all the state chief secretaries proposed setting up dedicated investigative units on crimes against women (IUCAW), the official response by the J&K government could lead to the impression that the advisory has been skipped by the state.
The home ministry, in January, had proposed establishing 150 IUCAW’s all over India; and J&K had been asked to establish five such units in districts where crimes against women are higher in comparison to other districts. Though the MHA asked the government to “set up these units expeditiously to ensure proper investigation in cases” related to violence against women, Special Secretary state home department Dilshad Shaheen said they had no information about any such advisory, “When has the advisory come? I do not know of any such advisory.” But quickly correcting herself, she added, “I do not deal with this subject.”
“I can’t say anything,” is what another special secretary in the state home department, Arshid Ayoub, said before hanging up.
The response comes even as there is evidence of growing crime against women in the state, where 15,786 cases of crime against women were registered in the past five years, including instances of sexual violence, cruelty by husband and dowry deaths.
Latest official figures reveal that 3,192 cases of crime against women were registered in the state last year with 1,340 instances of sexual violence and 332 cases of rape. Cruelty by husband too is not uncommon in the state with 456 cases reported during 2014. Four dowry related deaths also took place the previous year.
Even though the recently-appointed Chairperson of Jammu and Kashmir State Women’s Commission Nayeema Mehjoor also declined knowledge of any such advisory, she said setting up such units is the need of the hour as many women do not register cases given the social stigma attached to it. “We are receiving four to five cases of domestic violence per day but crime against women is growing fast and we need such units urgently,” she said.
The main objective of these units, to be headed by an additional Superintendent of Police-rank officer and assisted by two Deputy SPs, would be to help the local police in investigations of crimes like rape, dowry, acid attacks etc. The MHA letter says that 33% of the personnel in the units should be women. The Centre would bear 50% of the cost of setting up a unit, which would be around 28 lakh per year.
Director General of Police K Rajendra Kumar said that the state already has two women police stations for handling cases related to women but added, “The police department is working on the central government’s proposal’’.