Mumbai: Two days after the brutal rape-cum-murder of an 18-year-old girl student residing at the Savitridevi Phule Women’s Hostel, various political parties on Thursday upped the ante against the Maharashtra government, and demanded the ratifiation of the ‘Shakti Act’.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi (VBA) have demanded stringent action in the matter, while Union Minister of State for Social Justice, Ramdas Athawale, will meet the victim’s family on Friday.
NCP chief spokesperson Mahesh Tapase said if this is the situation in a crowded city like Mumbai, what will be the scenario in the mofussil parts of the state where women stay in hostels.
Condemning the incident, AAP Mumbai President Preeti Sharma-Menon said it is shocking that the crime took place in the most policed area of the state – a few minutes from both the Mantralaya and the Raj Bhavan, the seats of power.
“The tragedy is personal to us at AAP because the victim’s father is our worker in Akolaa. He trusted the state and put his young girl in its care, only to be betrayed by a callous and incompetent administration,” Sharma-Menon said.
VBA President Prakash Ambedkar went to meet the officers at the Marine Drive police station for an update on the investigation, while his party activists staged a demonstration outside the premises demanding justice for the victim.
Tapase said that the erstwhile Maha Vikas Aghadi government had introduced the Shakti Act – designed on the lines of the Disha Act of Andhra Pradesh.
“The Act was passed in December 2021 with a majority in the Maharashtra Legislature and even the (then) opposition BJP had supported it. It was sent for the Centre’s ratification, but till June 2023, it has not been approved. Had this law been approved, the (hostel) girl could have been spared of the torture and her life could have been saved,” Tapase pointed out.
According to Sharma-Menon, the hostel is in abysmal condition and the role of the warden could be of ‘wilful abetment’ as the authorities permitted an unauthorised man to live on the premises meant only for women.
“The hostel warden should be booked for aiding/abetting this heinous act. A transparent inquiry should be conducted into the running of all the state hostels and ensure strict rules barring men there. Also, the government must announce a dignified compensation for the victim’s family,” said Sharma-Menon.
Tapase said the Union Home Ministry should clarify to the people “why an important law like the Shakti Act of Maharashtra was not taken up and why the MVA government’s decision has been kept pending by the BJP government”.
Meanwhile, Athawale will visit the family members of the deceased girl in Mumbai on Friday and offer his condolences.