news Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 05:30
There’s quite a bit of irony in the fact that Aruna Shanbaug waited for 42 years for her ordeal to get over, yet Sohanlal Bhartha Valmiki, her assailant was scot-free after seven years. After Aruna's death, the police are exploring the possibility of adding Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code to the case. Though Aruna has remained off and on in the limelight for decades, no one has caught a glimpse of Sohanlal in all these years, his current whereabouts remain a mystery. “I tried desperately to get a picture of him, but it wasn’t anywhere in the records,” says author and activist Pinki Virani to The News Minute. Virani has championed Shanbaug’s case and says the entire thought of there not even being a picture of Valmiki is “funny and tragic”. Sohanlal walked free in 1980, but the hospital, jail, court and police files have no picture of his. In fact, Virani was never even told the jail in which Sohanlal was serving his term. On the night of November 27, 1973, Valmiki sodomised Shanbaug in the KEM hospital in Mumbai after he found out that she was menstruating at the time. Valmiki, a ward-boy at the hospital, strangled her with a dog-chain, cutting oxygen supply to her brain which left her with irreparable damage. Shanbaug ended up blind, comatose and paralysed. The former nurse at the hospital was confined to a tiny room near ward number four at the same facility for more than four decades. The now former ward-boy was located and apprehended in Pune. Sentenced to seven years on charges of robbery and attempt to murder, he was released subsequently and reportedly vanished. A charge of robbery and attempt to murder was filed against him as the doctors at the hospital had reportedly stayed mum about the anal-rape after being instructed by the hospital Dean.   Valmiki was convicted of assault and robbery for which he was sentenced to two concurrent 7 year imprisonments; but, such was the mockery of life that he completed his term and was set free from the prison in six years, whereas, all that was left of Aruna was a screaming, vegetative body. Journalist and writer Pinki Virani, who has written a book titled 'Aruna's Story', says, “The worst part: he was not sentenced for rape because he had not committed the rape vaginally; it was anal.”  A report in The Times of India says that the examination of Aruna when she was found the next morning was by what is called the “two-finger test”. The test, which was banned in India in March last year, entailed the insertion of fingers into her vagina to check virginity. It confirmed that her hymen was intact and that was that. At the time, Aruna was engaged to a junior doctor at the hospital.  The then hospital dean chose not to report the anal rape to the police in order to spare the couple the public disclosure. Her fiancé was also discouraged from being a complainant. Instead, a sub-inspector became the complainant as no one else was willing.  The judgment against the rapist noted “that the victim was menstruating and the accused had gone there with the intention to rape.” But as Valmiki was not charged with rape, he was convicted only for attempt to murder and robbery.  He was sentenced to seven years, which was reduced to six because he had already served a year in lock up. According to Virani, some ward boys claimed Sohanlal who hailed from Bulandshar in Uttar Pradesh, changed identity and started living in Delhi. The Bhoiwada police, who had registered the case in 1973, are exploring the possibility of registering a case of murder against Valmiki.  They first have to find out if the assailant is alive or not. Shanbaug, we know, is not anymore. Read- Why is #ModiInsultsIndia trending? Read- The boy from Hyderabd who became an ISIS martyr in Syria Read- After decades of pain and suffering, Aruna Shanbaug is finally at peace. A passionate call for the Right to Die by Ritu Bhandari
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