After the trauma, the struggle against threat and intimidation is a lonely one
When a series of gang rapes rocked Haryana in October, Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited Sacha Kera village and met with Raj and Raja Kali, the parents of a 16-year-old girl who burnt herself after being gangraped by three village goons. Her visit, however, did not inspire any other Haryana politician to commiserate with the scores of similar cases in the State, nor has it stopped the occurrence of gang rapes. The last reported was one on November 28, in Ajaib village, which falls in Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s constituency, Rohtak.
Without a strong political will, rape cases flounder and often compensation is denied in Haryana. “No government functionary or representative of the ruling party bothers to visit the victims. Such a show of solidarity will automatically demoralise the accused, who are usually socially powerful. Now, they are emboldened to give threats and connive to be let off in the cases against them,” says Inderjeet Singh, president of the CPI(M) State unit.
With the Centre talking of setting up fast track courts to deal with rape crimes, activists across Haryana are also wondering why there is no such assurance from the State government so far. “Is it because many of the perpetrators are from the influential Jat community, who the government does not want to annoy,” asks Savita, who heads the Haryana Mahila Samiti.
Of the five people mentioned in the Ajaib village gang rape, the two key accused recognised and named by the woman have not been arrested so far. A newly married woman, gang-raped by four men on October 3, in Banwasa village of Sonepat district, has been abandoned by her family.
Says Jagmati Sangwan of AIDWA, “Out of the seven accused, the name of one has been removed from the FIR due to pressure on the victim. There has been no effort from the district administration to counsel the girl’s in-laws and husband to take her back. Her trauma has multiplied because of the insensitive government machinery.”
In Kalsi village in Karnal district, a 15-year-old Dalit girl was raped by two upper caste men in September, and when her mother raised the voice, she too was raped and murdered. “Though the police have arrested the two rapists, after a media outcry, there is no headway in the murder investigation,” says Dharampal, the girl’s father.
The gang-rape of Shiela (name changed) in Dabra village near Hisar in September and her father’s subsequent suicide when he saw a MMS of the incident made national headlines. The girl and her family have been forced to leave the village and live with her grandmother in Hisar town. Her brother had to drop out of his college course because he could not attend classes for two months.
“We can never go back to the village. They are powerful people and will force us to withdraw their names from the FIR. I want them to be convicted,” Shiela told The Hindu . After the trauma, the struggle against threat and intimidation is also a lonely one.