While it's important for people to be aware of emergency response numbers and use them, the minister's choice of words and his timing comes across as an attempt to blame the victim.

Hyderabad vet murder Telangana Home Minister blames victim for not calling 100
news Crime Friday, November 29, 2019 - 16:58

Telangana Home Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali has stirred a row with an untimely and insensitive comment on the murder of veterinary doctor Madhuri Reddy (name changed) in the outskirts of Hyderabad. Speaking to the media on Friday, the minister said that it was unfortunate that the victim had called her sister and not the emergency response number ‘100’.

“We are saddened by the incident. Police is alert and controlling crime. Our police are one of the most efficient in India. A few months ago a child was raped, check the history – within two months he was given death penalty. In this case too, the police have reacted very quickly in this case and some people have been identified already. Even though she (the victim) was literate, she called her sister. She could have called 100. It is unfortunate that she called her sister and not '100', had she called '100' she could have been saved,” Mahmood Ali said.

He added, “We will spread awareness that 100 is a friendly number, if you dial 100, within minutes the police will reach the spot. In the 30 minutes that she spoke to her sister if she would have called 100 at least once, the police would have taken action then itself. We will take precautions to make sure such cases don’t happen again.”

While it's important for people to be aware of emergency response numbers and use them, the minister's choice of words and his timing comes across as an attempt to blame the victim. There are systemic issues other than emergency response that are at play in this particular instance, without thinking about how public behaviour in response to these rules could have consequences for individual safety.

The minister also chose to bring in the victim's 'literacy' -- a condescending comment that was completely unnecessary. In crisis situations, how a person responds depends on who they trust and what they believe is the best option for them at that moment. Has the government done enough to build a friendly relationship between the police and the public? Would lay citizens perceive police as friendly enough, and do they believe their threat perception would be taken seriously if they call the police? Would the victim have been taken seriously if she was only able to articulate that her bike tyre was punctured and she was feeling unsafe?

Further, Madhuri’s family has alleged that when they did approach the police, the officials were insensitive. “The police spoke to us very rudely, in a disgusting manner. They kept saying she would have gone with someone. I kept saying my daughter is not like that, but they didn’t listen. Their apathy cost us our daughter, they didn’t do what they should have,” Madhuri’s mother told TNM.

Speaking to TNM on Friday, Madhuri’s sister Ramya (name changed) said, “I understand that the police need to look at all angles in an investigation, but they were so sure that my sister voluntarily went somewhere and didn’t take it seriously. That is wrong.”

Madhuri, a resident of Shamshabad, had parked had parked her bike near the Shamshabad toll plaza, before taking a cab to Gachibowli on Wednesday evening. Returning to the spot at around 9.30 pm, she found that her bike tyre was deflated. A lorry driver, who is the prime accused in the case, insisted on helping the victim despite her refusal.

Madhuri immediately called her sister Ramya and told her that she was scared. Her phone was later found switched off after which the family lodged a police complaint.

Pointing at the allegations of insensitive approach by the cops, Rekha Sharma, chairperson of National Commission for Women, has asked for quick action against the cops who failed to act on the missing complaint.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.