As protests continue to swirl across India over the brutal gang rape of a young woman on a Delhi bus last weekend, a think-tank has revealed that at least 20 men accused of rape have run for political office in India over the past five years.
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) noted that such candidates came from various parties. More than half of the accused rapists were from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
The report also noted that 260 men who were charged with committing other crimes against women, including molestation, also ran for office.
“Since 2007, political parties gave tickets to 20 rape accused to fight in state elections. This is shocking and requires urgent action,” said ADR founder, Jagdeep Chhokar, according to Agence France Presse.
“The politicians who come out to condemn rape are the ones who are openly giving the rape accused a chance to fight elections. This is hypocrisy.”
However, the ADR report did not specify how many of the politicians were convicted of their various crimes.
“Political parties should stop giving tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds and all those lawmakers who are accused in rape cases should be thrown out of power,” Chhokar added.
In the report, ADR concluded that it strongly recommends that political parties should stop giving tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds and who have been charged with serious crimes like murder, attempt to murder, and crimes against women such as rape .
ADR was established in 1999 to monitor elections and the backgrounds of political candidates across India in order to increase transparency and accountability in the political and electoral system of the country.
Corruption in Indian politics goes well beyond rape.
Lawmakers have also purchased weapons illegally for their own protection, even politicians facing criminal charges.
ADR reported earlier this year that between 1987 and 2012, 756 guns were purchased by MPs and other senior government officials; and between 2001 and 2012 alone, a total of 82 MPs purchased weapons directly from the state at below- market prices. (These were illegal imported weapons confiscated by the government). In many cases, MPs have acquired automatic and semi automatic weapons, which are usually the provenance of the military or terrorist and extremist organizations and prohibited for ordinary citizens.
Amazingly, 18 of these 82 MPs were facing criminal charges, including murder, attempted murder and kidnapping.
In perhaps the most extreme case, an MP named, Atiq Ahmed from Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, who has been described as a “ganglord” is facing no less than 44 separate criminal cases, including accusations of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping and extortion.
Other shady gun-buyers include Abu Asim Azmi from Maharashtra and Rakesh Sachan from Uttar Pradesh, each of whom are facing seven criminal cases; again, including such grave charges of kidnapping and attempted murder.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.