Flix Saturday, May 30, 2015 - 05:30
For close to 35 years, no one from the outside world had seen Sohanlal Bhartha Valmiki, Aruna Shanbaug’s rapist. On Saturday, May 30, eleven days after Shanbaug’s demise, the country woke up to the picture of Valmiki in the Sakaal Times, his face seen for the first time since no picture had earlier existed on record. “I wanted to complete the last detail in Aruna’s story,” says Dnyanesh Chavan, the reporter from the Mumbai Bureau of the newspaper who finally traced Valmiki following a disappearing act post his release from Pune’s Yerawada jail.While the police were unable to ascertain his whereabouts and several reports mentioned that Valmiki was in Delhi, Chavan relied on a report on the internet that mentioned Valmiki’s native place as Dadupur village in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh. “It was my first and only clue,” says the reporter, adding that while every news agency repeatedly questioned Valmiki’s whereabouts “no one thought of going to his native place.” After a train journey of two days to New Delhi on May 25, Chavan was on a bus to Gulaothi village, keeping an eye out for the village of Dadupur which lay on the road ahead. “On enquiring at the first house of the village I came across, I met Rajpal Yadav, who said that he was Sohanlal’s childhood friend.” “He added that he hadn’t seen him in 25 years,” Chavan says.This didn’t deter Chavan though, and after a bit of pressure, Yadav relented and took him to Sohanlal’s first home. “His cousin, Rampal Singh, told me that Sohanlal was alive and lived in the Parpa village in Ghaziabad, and worked at NTPC in Dadri, Ghaziabad, as a daily-wage labourer.” Chavan’s next stop was Dadri, and Sohanlal’s home. He mentions that Sohanlal’s elder son, Ravindra was not forthcoming when he turned up their doorstep and Sohanlal was not at home. “Why a story now?” his son shot back at Chavan.“They were scared and not ready to speak, but I told them that this part was missing in Aruna’s story,” and after a bit of persuasion, they agreed. Chavan waited for close to three hours, and at 7:15 p.m. Sohanlal returned home. “Sohanlal was scared, almost speechless when he found out someone had come looking,” Chavan says, explaining that he thought someone had come to arrest him.“I told him that while I didn’t know the consequences of my story, it needed to be told,” says Chavan, and Sohanlal reluctantly agreed. “He was speaking very softly, he wasn’t able to, I think,” the reporter says. More scared than forthcoming, Chavan says that though Sohanlal mentioned that he assaulted Aruna, he denies raping her. Chavan says that the family mentioned Sohanlal had not eaten for four days since he’d heard of Shanbaug’s death. The reporter remembers picking up on something else. “He (Sohanlal) was smart though, and didn’t speak much but he kept saying ‘I don’t remember what happened’.” After serving seven years imprisonment, Sohanlal told Chavan he returned to his village but was shunned by his family and his wife left him for a period of time. Since, Chavan mentions that Sohanlal has been trying to ends meet and is in repentance. And just like that, a reporter, who had never even met Shanbaug, chased a whim on the internet and completed her story. Also Read: Sohanlal Valmiki: The forgotten rapist who slowly killed Aruna Shanbaug over 42 years
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