Rattled by Bhopal gang rape, MP govt to close all liquor shops in ‘sensitive’ zones

The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to close all liquor shops located near schools, girls hostels and religious places as part of a damage-control exercise following the gang rape of a civil services aspirant in the state capital recently.

It will also launch a campaign to create awareness among youth in schools and colleges, officials said on Tuesday. This was decided at a meeting chaired by chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and attended by senior officials – including chief secretary BP Singh and director general of police Rishi Kumar Shukla – the previous evening.

The woman was raped allegedly by four rag-pickers near the Habibganj railway station in the state capital on the evening of October 31. A disagreement over jurisdiction delayed the filing of a police complaint in this regard, spurring widespread criticism.

Following the uproar, Chouhan instructed the authorities to ensure the installation of GPS systems and CCTV cameras in public transport vehicles as well as buses belonging to educational institutions. “Educational institutions that fail to adhere to these directives will be derecognised. CCTV cameras are required to be installed on the entrance gate of women’s hostels too,” an official spokesperson said.

The chief minister asked the authorities to close down liquor shops situated in sensitive zones. “Immediate medical treatment should be provided in cases of crime against women, and the health department must take steps to sensitise doctors,” he said.

Participants of the meeting also decided that the police must counsel at least 2.5 lakh female students at educational institutions within the next two weeks under a special programme aimed at preventing crimes against women. “Police have been instructed to register crimes against women on priority. Training will also be imparted to field staffers in the police department over the next three months,” the spokesperson said.

Other measures decided at the meeting included deploying woman conductors in school buses and carrying out character verification of drivers; screening films that spell out the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ touch at educational institutions across the state; establishing a ‘one-stop centre’ to address women’s concerns before March 2017; and installing sufficient lights at sensitive places.

Five law-enforcement officers, including the officers in-charge of three police stations, were suspended on charges of delayed action a day after the gang rape was reported. Health department authorities also suspended two doctors who termed the rape as a consensual sexual act in their medical examination report.

The Jabalpur bench of the Madhya Pradesh high court took suo moto cognizance of the matter, and pulled up the state government over the manner in which the case was handled. It directed the government to submit an action-taken report on November 27, the next date of hearing.