From L S Herdenia
BHOPAL: A ghastly incident, in which a mother was killed for daring to report the gang rape of her daughter, has shaken the conscience of the political, administrative and police circles of Madhya Pradesh. The traumatic incident took place in Betul—a predominantly tribal district of the State.
Over the last few months, so many incidents of gang rape have been reported from Madhya Pradesh that some people have nicknamed the “Tiger State” and the “Soya State” as the “Gang rape state” of the country. In the series of such incidents, a 15-year-old, school-going girl was raped on Feb 11 in Betul. The mother of the girl filed a report at the local police station. Despite several pleadings of the girl’s family, no action was taken against the culprits. This, when the complainant mother had named the rapists in the report.
Meanwhile, the culprits started pressuring the mother and her family to withdraw the report. However, they refused o yield to the demand. After verbal requests, the culprits started threatening them. One night, they forcibly entered the victim’s house armed with weapons like pistols, knives etc and asked her to take back her report. After holding violent threats, they left the place. The mother of the rape victim, the very same night, informed the police about the threat held out to the victims. She also sought protection. Instead of acting on her complaint, the police advised her to “close the door and sleep” as “nothing would happen”. The next day, she filed her complaint in writing but the police continued to ignore her complaints.
In Madhya Pradesh, on every Tuesday, officials, both administrative and police, hold public hearings called ‘Jan Sunwai’. The mother appeared before the district officials and narrated her agony. Until then, a month had elapsed since the rape of her daughter. In the interregnum, no serious attempt was made to trace the culprits and arrest them. Her appearance at the public hearing enraged the culprits. And they shot her dead.
This is for the first time that somebody who made a complaint about rape was killed in MP. The issue was raised in the Vidhan Sabha. The Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan joined the opposition in condemning the murder. He also ordered the transfer of the district Superintendent of Police and the suspension of the head of Police station where the complaint was lodged.
However, the police personnel who treated the tribal mother’s complaint in a cavalier manner deserved more severe punishment. Upma Rai. Chairperson of the State Women’s Commission rushed to Betul on hearing the news of the brutal murder.
After her return from Betul, she told this reporter that had the police acted promptly, the woman’s life could have been saved. Upma Rai confirmed that the mother had submitted applications in writing reporting the threat to her life by the goons who raped her daughter. Not only that, she personally narrated to the police that Rajiv Gawli (Yadav), Mantu and another person had barged into her shanty late on March 19 with pistol, knives, spear and other weapons and had threatened her with dire consequences. But regrettably, no action was taken by the authorities concerned. This clearly showed, Upma Rai added, gross neglect of the entire issue by the police and the district administration.
Upma Rai said that the family of the rape victim was so terrified that it left its shanty and shifted to their close relative’s place. But even this could not save the life of the mother. Upma Rai pointed out the involvement of another woman in the abduction and subsequent rape of the tribal girl. This particular woman is a member of a gang, which lures teenaged girls and then sells them to middlemen, who supply them to brothels. It seems that the police knew about the existence of this racket but nothing was done to break the gang.
A few days later, a dalit girl was raped. When the victim’s family approached the police, they were told to accept a sum of Rs one lakh and forget about the incident. But in this case also, the parents insisted on reporting the matter. It appears that the young daughters of tribal and dalit families have become easy prey for the anti-socials.
Even as the rape incidents and the murder of the mother of a rape victim rocked the State, a dalit woman was shot dead in Damoh. The woman was shot when the accused came to her house and tried to take her away with him forcibly. When she resisted, she was shot at. She was fatally injured and died on the spot.
When reports of several rapes found prominent place in the print and the electronic media, a local newspaper published a report claiming that, on an average, nine rape cases are reported every day in Madhya Pradesh for last two years. And these figures were official. They were later presented in the Vidhan Sabha in reply to a question by a member.
The figures indicate the seriousness of the situation and go on to prove that women, especially dalits and tribals, are not safe in Madhya Pradesh. (IPA Service)