Law's a Beast

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Days after a Mumbai police constable raped a 17-year-old college girl inside a police chowki on Mumbai's Marine Drive, people who walked the promenade or drove the stretch made it a point to stop, hurl the choicest of abuses at constables posted along the four-kilometre stretch before moving on. The men in khaki fought hard to keep their cool, grimacing at the dishonour brought on by one of their own, Sunil Atmaram More, on the afternoon of April 21. It looked like Marine Drive, the symbol of the city that's Mumbai, won't be able to wash off that ignominy for quite awhile.

The Marine Drive Rape, as it's now called, is by no means the only one that happened that particular day, but it marks a new low in crimes against women. Never before has a police constable ordered a young girl inside a chowki, slapped and raped her at least thrice according to initial medial reports; never before has such an incident been reported from the most public of public places in the city, that too at 4.30 pm in the afternoon. "My first reaction was of shock and disbelief, complete disbelief," police commissioner A.N. Roy told Outlook. Mumbai reacted in much the same manner, but with also a fair share of aggression.

Impromptu protests at the spot, chowki stormings, midnight rasta rokos, demonstrations by women's groups, free slander and abuse of policemen across the city, banners that demanded dismantling of the force itself and a public hanging for More. These were all strong reminders that civil society chooses to make itself heard now and then.

More, drunk while on duty, was summarily dismissed from service under the stringent Section 311 of the Constitution, his immediate seniors transferred to backroom duties. He had been reprimanded several times before for the same offence. Still, the administrative action didn't assuage public anger. The unsuspecting girl from suburban Chembur was just out walking along the promenade with her friends, after making inquiries of an...
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