news Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - 05:30
Banda, Uttar Pradesh Late last year, during a BBC Debate between Union Minister Piyush Goyal, social activist Aruna Roy and business tycoon Sunil Mittal, Goyal and Roy had a go at each other over an important issue still plaguing Indian society. When Roy pointed out how people are still held back because of their caste, Goyal interrupted and said, “I think it’s not about what the caste of a particular person was, it’s about all of India, it’s about including India as a whole. We believe it’s time now that we move out of sectoral politics.” His intentions aside, his perception of the system cannot be further away from reality. And every now and then, there is a tragic incident to prove how wrong he is. On 26th February 2015, 33-year-old Madanlal* from Girwa in Uttar Pradesh’s Banda district spotted Ramdulare drawing electricity illegally from the power lines for his wheat mills. Madanlal, belonging to the Kushwaha caste group considered a lower-caste, warned Ramdulare against doing so and requested him to take a proper electricity connection. Ramdulare, an upper caste man from a rich family was not used to being questioned, and was angry with Madanlal. What followed, according to Madanlal, was a gruesome attack on him and his family. Few minutes after the argument, Madanalal says that an enraged Ramdulare came along with his family members Pappu, Ramchandra, Laxman, Chhotelal, Ayodhya and Bihari and threatened to kill Madanlal outside his home. They were holding pistols in their hands, baying for his blood, says Madanlal. Hearing the commotion, Madanlal’s wife Sunita* reportedly came out and started shouting to save her husband’s life. In a fit of rage, Ramdulare, Pappu, Ramchandra and Chhotelal caught hold of Sunita and took her inside their house nearby, tied her legs with a cloth and put a gun to her head, while others held Madanlal at gunpoint. Then, they gang-raped her one by one and left the place. It has been three months since his 25-year old wife Sunita was gang-raped. Till now, no arrests have been made, and this despite an FIR and High Court order. The couple is living in hiding as they receive constant threats from those accused of the crime. It wasn’t easy for us to meet Madanlal. Given the nature of threats he is getting, he agrees to meet us only after he confirms that we aren’t stooges of the police or the accused who have been threatening him. After a brief exchange of names, we walk to a secluded school building in order to avoid attention. Once he is settled in and feels comfortable sharing, he starts narrating his harrowing experience with a composure unimaginable in the current situation. Apathy of the police The following sequence of events is as narrated by Madanlal. Shaken by the incident, when Madanlal and his wife mustered courage to go to the nearest police station, the station in-charge at Girwa police station Anita Chauhan asked them to leave and told them that they will be called later. At 4pm that day, Madanlal and Sunita were called to the police station. Chauhan gave them a blank piece of paper on which they were instructed to write that the rape complaint was fake. Sunita refused to do so. Next day, undeterred of by the cold attitude of the concerned law enforcement authorities, the couple went to Banda district headquarters to meet the Superintendent of Police and apprise him of the situation. They were assured by him that action would be taken soon. Seeing no progress in their case, Madanlal and Sunita met the DIG of Banda, Gyaneshwar Tiwari, who then calls the SP and orders for the medical test of the victim, five days after the incident. After the medical test is conducted, Sunita is taken to the location of the incident by inspector Anita Chauhan, who also called the accused. In front of Sunita, Anita asked one of the accused, Ramchandra, to file a false complaint against Sunita’s husband, with an accusation of molesting his 19-year-old sister. She added that she will teach his sister what to say. When Madanlal meets the SP again to inform him of the lack of progress, he is informed that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is supposed to reach Banda on March 9, and is advised to prepare an application and present it to him directly. However, on the day of the visit, Sunita is prevented from doing so by Chauhan. After several trips to police stations and civil administration offices, finally an FIR is filed on March 10 and Sunita’s statement is recorded in front of the magistrate. But no action is taken. Madanlal approached the Allahabad High Court, which orders for a proper investigation, and arrests if needed. But till date, no arrests have been made, despite the fact that Madanlal has submitted a copy of the FIR and HC order to the investigating police station and SP, Banda.   Copy of FIR and HC Order Madanlal alleges that the accused have heavily bribed Anita Chauhan for helping them in their case. Inspector Anita Chauhan has been transferred now. But the situation has become worse. The new inspector, Ramesh Chaudhry, has allegedly threatened Madanlal to take back his case, or that he will be killed. Madanlal even approached his constituency’s Member of Parliament (MP), Bhairon Prasad Mishra of the BJP, who promised to look into the matter. But no action has been taken. The case has taken a huge toll on Madanlal’s savings. He has spent around Rs 60,000 and exhausted all his savings fighting the case. He has spent Rs 20,000 just on lawyer’s fees in Allahabad High Court. “In spite of that, I am determined to fight the case. I want justice for my wife,” he says. At the Tehsil office, Arun Kumar, the Circle Officer for Naraini Block under whose jurisdiction the Girwa police station falls, feigns ignorance. “Which rape case? Never heard of any,” he says. On sharing the case details, he says, “Inspector Ramesh Chaudhry has sent his report alleging that the rape complaint filed by Madanlal and his wife is fake. Few witnesses have even put their affidavits claiming the same.” He adds in a rather brusque manner “Medical report has indicated no rape or sexual violence.” He refuses to show us a copy of the medical report, and says, “Nowadays, every woman threatens to file a false complaint of gang-rape against men. This case also looks false to me.” “When a final report comes from there, we will inform you,” he says, dismissing us. *Names have been changed to protect identities. Kavita Devi works with Khabar Lahariya. Read their story here.
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