We know that this much is true that Dalit women are at the receiving end of gruesome violence, whether it is domestic or social because they are treated as the lesser sex and also belong to the most oppressed social group in our society. We've seen this in the chilling Kherlanji (Maharashtra) massacre in 2006 where four members of the Bhotmange family were murdered. The women in the family Surekha and Priyanka were paraded naked in public and sexually abused before being murdered. What was their fault? Surekha opposed the requisition of their land to have a road built on it. She was a Dalit woman, how could she dare to do this?
Now, in another devastating case, a 19-year-old Dalit woman was allegedly kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered before her body was hanged from a tree to make it look like a suicide. A panel of doctors at the Ahmedabad civil hospital on Wednesday conducted the postmortem. The autopsy was conducted after the police lodged a case of kidnapping, gang rape, and murder against four people.
The victim went missing on December 31 and her body was only found on Sunday. After she went missing, her family had approached the police on January 3 to file an FIR but the local police refused to register the case.
According to reports, police inspector, N.L. Rabari, assured the family that the girl was safe and had eloped with a boy of the same community and both of them had got married so there was no case to be filed. The next day he said that he didn't have any jurisdiction in the matter and asked the family to approach Sabalpur police station.
“When she went missing, her father went to file a complaint, but the police did not accept it. They did not file the rape FIR till two days after the body was found,” said the diseased’s aunt.
She had gone to Modasa with her sister but didn’t return. Later, her sister revealed that a man named, Bimal Bharwad, had put her into his car and asked her to keep quiet about it. The CCTV footage of a cooperative running mill corroborated this claim. Bimal told the victim's family that the car was taken by three of his friends, Darshan Bharwad, Satish Bharwad, and Jigar.
However, on January 5, her body was found hanging on a tree. The family refused to accept that it was a suicide and were convinced that she was murdered.
On January 7, the girl's grandfather registered an FIR against Bimal and his three friends accusing them of gang rape and murder. The four persons named in the incident are Bimal Bharvad, Darshan Bharvad, Satish Bharvad, and Jigar.
After the FIR, the victim's family agreed to claim her body which was sent for postmortem at the Ahmedabad civil hospital. reportedly, the case was registered under various provisions and Sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act after thousands of Dalits protested in front of the local police station.
“We have lodged the FIR on the basis of complaint given by the family of the deceased. Our investigation is underway,” said Gandhinagar range Inspector-General Mayanksinh Chavda.
The superintendent at the hospital, Gunvant Rathod said, "The protesters met me and sought a copy of the post mortem report. We have conveyed their sentiments to the relevant police authorities. Meanwhile, a panel postmortem was conducted at the hospital on Wednesday."
Activists have demanded the arrest of the accused in the matter. "We have two demands. The perpetrators of this horrific crime should be arrested and the police inspector should be suspended for his actions. Only then will the family accept the body", said Kirti Rathod, a Dalit activist.
KK Ojha, additional DGP (ADGP) of the SC/ST Cell in Gujarat has told the protestors that action will definitely be taken against the accused.
He said, "We have asked local police deputy superintendent to arrest the accused as soon as possible. Meanwhile, we have initiated a departmental inquiry to see if there was indeed negligence on part of the police in this matter."
Honestly, I don't have words to express how deeply saddened and angry I am after writing this piece. All I can say is that I'm going to channelise it into putting pressure on the authorities to bring the woman justice. I hope it also shakes the country out of its caste blindness and we can come up with solutions that tackle the problem of caste at grass root level. We're sorry, we failed you as a society.
Featured Image: Twitter
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