NEW DELHI: "The press after the 2012 (Nirbhaya) incident has adopted a zero-tolerance policy. In other countries, press doesn't report rape and molestation anymore. Our press reports every incident. So it is on top of the mind", said a seemingly irritated Union Minister Maneka Gandhi.

And this when “India is fourth from the bottom when it comes to crime against women” whatever that means. The Minister did not clarify the context, but the fact that these remarks came just after reports of the Jewar rape were making the headlines led the media to draw a connection between the two.

More so, as the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has not been able to arrest a single rapist even as the traumatised women sit in their homes, terrified out of their wits.

This time, however, there has been some political response unlike earlier incidents. The Samajwadi sent a delegation. Women of the All India Democratic Association visited the victims and spoke with them at length. And in perhaps the most significant gesture of solidarity the Bhartiya Kisan Union organised a dharna at the teshil headquarters insisting that the police act immediately to arrest the rapists. Bijendra Chauhan, BKU president Gautam Budh Nagar, told reporters that the police had taken the incident very lightly. "The police reached at the crime spot late when the criminals had fled away. Even after five days they have not got any concrete leads in this case. The family is losing hope. We will support the family to ensure justice is delivered," he said.

What was to have been a celebration turned into a nightmare for this family from Jewar. Four women and four men, including the driver and his wife, set off in the afternoon for Bulandhshahr where a relative was preparing to give birth. They were carrying cash for the medical expenses. And were just out of the village when they felt the tyres of the vehicle tear, as it seemed that someone had thrown nails on to the road.

They stopped the car and called home for some help when they were surrounded by six men with weapons. They beat the men mercilessly, slapped and hit the women and then after tying the men, started raping the women according to what they told the visiting delegations. Sehba Farooqi of AIDWA told The Citizen that the women said they could not identify the assailants as every time they looked up, the men would beat them.

When the men started raping the women, one of the men Shakil kept pleading with them to let them go, reminding them of humanity and other such considerations. One of the men responded to his constant requests with, “he will keep talking so shoot him” according to the other relatives. And he was shot dead.

The police, according to AIDWA, is trying to hush up the issue, and pass it off as looting without mention of the rape. The police has claimed that it was the handiwork of a local gang, and has changed its versions, giving rise to the suspicion that it was trying to hush up the case without making any arrests.

Maneka Gandhi’s comments coincide with the media coverage of this incident, that has left the poor family and indeed the entire community terrified. The Adityanath government is coming under serious question for deteriorating law and order---with communal and other attacks acquiring epidemic dimensions in UP.

So the advise from a senior Minister at the centre is for the media to stop reporting rape. It can happen but should not be reported. One woman was a senior citizen, another in her late 50’s. Farooqi said they were absolutely terrified, and yet upset that the police and the government was taking no action to arrest the guilty.