On December 16, 2012, a private bus moved about on the roads of the national capital undetected — even as six of its occupants, including the bus driver, robbed a man, beat up a woman and her male friend, then gang-raped the 23-year-old paramedic student with bestiality so grave, it forced the world to take note of the crime.
The gang rape itself reportedly went on for about an hour.
The bus — driven reportedly by an unlicensed driver — remained undisturbed by officers of the law.
December 16, 2012 — The bus in which the 23-year-old paramedic student was gang raped. (Source: Twitter)
But a seven-episode Netflix series, Delhi Crime, now wants us to believe that the Delhi Police did all it could to solve the crime as its over-stretched, over-worked personnel arrested all six accused in the case within five days.
The question is not what the police did after the crime had happened.
The question is — would the 23-year-old have faced the horror she did, and lost her life in the manner she did, if police patrol teams had intercepted the bus that plied on the roads with curtains drawn on its windows, six men taking turns to rape her, insert rods in her private parts and finally pull out her intestines from her body?
Every society has its trigger point — December 16 was India’s.
Yet, seemingly oblivious of the profound impact of this night on a nation, Delhi Crime plays on half-truths and absolute lies in a bid to give a clean chit to the police department by dramatising not just the investigation in the crime — but the crime itself.
The depiction of the naked bodies of the victim and her male friend (even for a fraction of a second) will make your stomachs churn.
Enough graphic details about the case are in the public domain. Delhi Crime would have done much better by sparing us some more.
Delhi Crime wants to sensitise us to the problems faced by the police force. (Source: A still from Delhi Crime)
The series would also have its viewers believe that the man who was robbed and thrown out of the bus by the group of six criminals — before the woman and her friend were picked up by them — did not approach the police.
This is repeated several times through the show by DCP Vartika Chaturvedi (brilliantly played by Shefali Shah).
But the fact is that Ramadhar Singh, the man who was picked up from RK Puram Sector 4 by the bus, reportedly approached the Hauz Khas police station that very night — only to be turned away by the officials on duty. The research team of Delhi Crime seems to have somehow missed the fact in their over-enthusiasm to not just give police a clean chit, but prepare a PR blitz for the force that was clearly caught napping on that terrible night.
The truth is — the crime would not have happened had the Hauz Khas police personnel acted swiftly on Ramadhar Singh’s complaint. Had they tracked a private bus plying in unlicensed hours. Had their patrols stopped a vehicle with its windows covered.
Singh is a common man though and there is no way he can refute the repeated claims of the series that if he would have approached the police, they would have acted.
There is no denying that the police in this country are ill-equipped, over-worked and understaffed. But to utilise a crime of the magnitude of the December 16 gang rape to prove that point is unbelievable. A disclaimer saying that the series is a work of fiction, and then twisting facts of a real-life event, apparently tailoring these to suit a particular narrative, is unacceptable.
The worst I found in the series though was the seeming attempt to tell the audience that the male friend of the victim was kissing her in the bus — and that is apparently what triggered the six men into raping her.
Rape has no justification. No explanations. No triggers. Period.
In the series, a police officer, played by Bhupendra Singh (Rajesh Tailang), expresses amazement, saying how is it that the male friend escaped with minor injuries? The fact is, the victim’s male friend suffered broken ribs in the attack.
The anger against the police that ran through the city then was spontaneous and not manufactured by prodding through political parties. To assign political motives to the demand for action against the then-police commissioner (Neeraj Kumar), covering it under the garb of 'fiction', is insupportable.
Nothing political about it — Tremendous public anger spilled onto the roads of Delhi in December 2012. (Source: India Today)
Shefali Shah is an amazing actor — so are Bhupendra Singh, Rasika Dugal and many others who impress you here.
But the same can’t be said about the intent of the series.
TV shows, such as Crime Patrol, do show people the hard work police put into solving cases. However, there is a general perception that the police are inefficient. That perception must be fought but through good work — by ensuring that women can venture out safely on the streets, by ensuring that the public is not turned away from police stations in the name of jurisdiction, by ensuring that buses in the city do not become rape zones, by ensuring that no woman has to go through what the December 16 victim went through.
Till things change on the ground, the PR exercises should hold.