India’s Hall of Shame

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Why is the Nitish Kumar’s Bihar Govt. giving character certificates to rape-accused BJP MLA of Purnea and slandering the rape victim as a ‘blackmailer’ and ‘murderess’?

Why is Mayawati’s UP police jailing a minor girl who is gang rape victim and protecting the accused BSP MLA?

Why are rapists of a minor dalit girl being protected and woman activist jailed in Punjab?

A summary of the cases mentioned above is given below. We need  some urgent corrective measures to protect the rights of rape survivors struggling for justice.

Bihar: Rape victim resorts to stabbing the perpetrator (BJP MLA); is lynched almost to death by BJP supporters and branded an immoral ‘blackmailer’ by Deputy CM

 

A school teacher who had accused the BJP MLA of Purnea and his PA of rape and molestation some months ago only to withdraw the case on the eve of the elections, stabbed the MLA to death on 4th January. The woman was then lynched by BJP activists and is at present in a critical condition, fighting for her life in hospital in Katihar.

In the wake of the incident, the Bihar government has chosen to follow the attack on the woman’s life by BJP activists, with a personal assault on her character. While the Chief Minister has spoken of the problems of providing adequate security to legislators, the Deputy CM, Sushil Kr. Modi of the BJP, has accused the woman of being a blackmailer of poor moral character, while hailing the MLA who was killed as a man of great moral stature. In reality, the issue is not so much one of security of legislators but one of security of women in Nitish-ruled Bihar.

The incident raises the most serious questions about the Nitish Kumar Government’s much-touted claims of ‘women’s empowerment.’ Why, when the woman filed charges of rape last May, were the charges not investigated and accused not arrested or questioned by the police? What pressures were brought to bear on the woman to make her withdraw her charges on the eve of the Bihar Assembly polls?

It is likely that the woman was driven to take the extreme step of stabbing the MLA because she despaired of ever securing justice against a legislator from the ruling party, having already experienced first-hand how the police would refuse to investigate and the victim herself would be forced to withdraw her charges. There are reports that another woman had also made rape charges against the MLA which were also withdrawn.

The attitude of the ruling coalition and the government displays the most shameful gender bias and protection towards a rape-accused. Why was the rape accused fielded as a candidate in the Assembly elections? Why has no action been initiated against those in the MLA’s office who lynched the woman nearly to death? In a situation where the Deputy CM has already given his biased character certificates to the woman and the rape accused BJP MLA, can one expect any unbiased truth to emerge from the police enquiry announced by the state government?

A judicial enquiry ought to be held in the entire incident; protection should be ensured for the woman since her life is in danger and she should be shifted to PMCH (Patna) rather than remaining in Purnea; and attempt to murder charges should be filed against those who lynched her.

Uttar Pradesh: Rape Victim Jailed at Rapist MLA’s Behest

In BSP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, a 17-year-old OBC girl who accused the BSP MLA of Naraini (Banda district) Purushottam Narain Dwivedi of rape is in jail on charges of ‘theft.’ The girl was subjected to gang rape for four days (between 8-12 December) when she was in the custody of the MLA, but the matter came to light only recently. To suppress the incident, the MLA accused the girl of stealing his rifle, mobile phone and Rs. 2 lakh cash and had her jailed with the collusion of the police on 15 December. The girl kept telling the police that she had been gang raped but the police ignored it. The girl is a resident of Shahabazpur village of the Naraini Assembly constituency and is now in Banda jail.

It is shameful that no FIR was even registered in the case of this minor girl subjected to gang rape, neither was any medical examination made until several days after the incident in spite of the fact that she was bleeding continuously. The police therefore deliberately destroyed evidence. Instead of jailing the rape accused, the victim herself was jailed. The police blindly took the side of the rapists. Mayawati has belatedly suspended the accused MLA and ordering a CB CID enquiry – but this is eyewash since the victim continues to be in jail and face ‘theft’ charges!

AIPWA leaders of UP visited Banda and tried to meet the rape victim who is still in jail but were denied permission by the Banda Jail administration, suggesting that the state government and jail authorities are seeking to cover up the facts by preventing the victim from meeting a fact-finding team. There are reports that the father and relatives of the victim are receiving threats by the accused MLA and his supporters.

Punjab: Dalit girl raped and woman activist who raised the case jailed!

In mid-December, a 17½ year old girl from a poor Dalit family was lured by a havildar in Mansa to his house on the promise of employment, and subjected to gang rape by him along with three others including a local advocate, a trader, and a financier. When neighbours heard her cries and called the police, however, the police deliberately suppressed the rape case and instead booked both the victim and her rapists on charges of ‘loitering.’ Cases of rape and SC/ST atrocity were registered only two days later, after intervention by AIPWA activists. However, three weeks after the incident, the accused (apart from the havildar) were yet to be arrested, and, being influential locally, were bringing to bear all sorts of pressures and threats on the victim. Two other of the rape accused were arrested only on 4 January, following the protest rally at Mansa and the intervention of the central team of AIKM and AIPWA leaders, while the financier accused of rape is still at large. Worse still, the very same activists including AIPWA National Council member Jasbir Kaur Nat and National President of the All India Kisan Mahasabha Ruldu Singh, who helped book the rape case are now behind bars along with several other peasant leaders, on a patently false charge of ‘attempt to murder.’ The pretext for this was the fact that they along with peasant leaders of other groups like BKU (Dakonda) raised slogans in Court against the main accused in the murder of a popular peasant leader, leading to a minor skirmish when police assaulted them.

In the same area of Punjab some years ago, the dalit activist and singer Bant Singh had his limbs chopped off for supporting his daughter to pursue a rape case. The recent instance of rape of a dalit girl and victimisation of activists who pursued justice highlights the continuing strength of feudal survivals in Punjab and the increasingly repressive response of the Akali Government in Punjab where every mass movement is met with mass arrests of leaders, activists and masses.

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