Keenanís father writes to PM, demands stronger laws for womenís safety

A week after a 23-year-old paramedical student was brutally gangraped in Delhi, Valerian Santos, the father of Keenan, has written a strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding stronger laws to ensure safety of women. Keenan and his friend Reuben Fernandes were killed last year while trying to protect their female friends from a group of eve-teasers.

Valerian expressed his fear that once the protest in Delhi dies down, things will be back to what they were. "After my son and Reuben were killed, there was a long campaign for women's safety and for the killers to be swiftly punished, but little has changed a year later. I am writing this letter because I am as much pained at the girl's plight as I was when my son died," he said.

He also extended support to the protestors in the Capital. "I support the youth of Delhi and India who, tired of this menace, have brought this issue to the forefront with the help of the nation's media. The reason why I am writing to you Sir, is because this menace is not restricted to just Delhi or Mumbai, but affects entire India," he wrote.

"I know that the Prime Minister is aware of both incidents. I wrote this letter because even after the authorities took cognizance, changes in law are moving at a snail's pace," he added.

Valerian has asked for amendments in existing laws and for the enactment of others, which will act as a deterrent to offenders. He wrote: "Section 354 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code should be made non-bailable, non-cognizable and non-compoundable across the country. The central government should issue general directives to the concerned committees (NCW and SCWs) to come up with a well-drafted legislation for women's safety within three months."

He stressed that quick trials are necessary to bring criminals to book. "A specialised fast-track court should be attached to every sessions court for offences related to women. Time lines should be defined for redressal of cases in these specialised courts," he wrote.

His comments come days after Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh announced that additional women constables would be deployed at each police station. "There are certain things about which women are uncomfortable talking to male officers. There need to be more women officers in police stations," said Santos.

On Monday, the Santos family was going to attend the midnight mass at St Blaise Church in Amboli for the first time since the two youths were killed. "This year, we have decided to go the mass but the charm and enjoyment of Christmas will be missing," said Valerian.

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