Establishment’s callousness towards rape victims feeds cycles of outrage
It’s just as well that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lent his voice to growing outrage across the country at the horrendous violence against girls in Kathua and Unnao. His promise that justice will be delivered should be followed by stringent action against all criminals involved, including those responsible for obstructing justice – else the government’s ‘beti bachao’ slogan will ring utterly hollow. Public outrage at the crimes in Kathua and Unnao resembles the one that erupted after the 2012 Nirbhaya case, which was supposed to have been followed by course correction in the justice system. Clearly, that hope stands dispelled today.
The Unnao rape survivor faced more trauma after her father’s death in custody, her family’s exodus from their native village, and the UP police’s failure to arrest the accused BJP MLA until the Allahabad high court and CBI stepped in. In Kathua, J&K crime branch was hampered by raging protests by a Hindu Ekta Dal aided by local politicians. Both cases reflect political pressures that disrupt criminal investigations. The Nirbhaya protests were followed by a sweeping legislative response through amending rape laws. A similar trajectory is playing out again with ministers demanding death penalty for child rapists, a dangerous move giving perverse incentive to murder victims.
Parliament and assemblies have legislated for decades, but enough laws already exist to prosecute heinous crimes. The failure lies elsewhere: in registering crimes, launching serious prosecutions and delivering convictions. A related problem is political interference. Legislative changes at this point would be just a ploy by the political class to deflect public outrage. Meanwhile, police reforms enjoined by the Supreme Court have been hanging fire for more than a decade. Insulating police from political controls that influence promotions and transfers, recruiting more women cops and deploying them in special cells that investigate sexual offences, protecting witnesses, and improving forensic techniques are just some systemic reforms that are needed.
Alongside, governments must identify sexual predators among elected representatives and fast-track their cases. Being hard on one’s own sends a clear message down the line. A 2017 ADR study of 4,852 election affidavits found that three MPs and 48 MLAs faced cases of crimes against women. Further, recognised parties gave tickets to 334 such candidates instead of shunning them. If political parties’ professions following Kathua and Unnao are genuine, they could start by cleaning up their own backyards.
RAPE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST BJP MLA
Victim’s father dies while in custody, 6 cops suspended
The woman blamed Kuldeep Singh Sengar for the death, while he refuted allegations, calling the complainant ‘low- class’
The father of an 18-year-old woman, who had alleged rape by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar and his brothers, died in custody here on Monday, prompting her to put the blame on the lawmaker, who rejected the charge as a conspiracy and said the complainant was “low class.” The woman’s father was allegedly roughed up by the accused MLA’s brother and accomplices a few days back and sustained multiple injuries.
The alleged victim’s father, aged around 50, was rushed to a hospital from the district jail on Sunday and died during treatment today. He was arrested on April 5 under the Arms Act, police officials said. The news of his death spread like wildfire with opposition parties slamming the BJP government even as Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath promised action against the guilty.
“The incident is unfortunate. The additional DGP, Lucknow, has been asked to give his report and probe the matter, and if any policeman is found guilty, action will be taken. None will be spared,” Adityanath said.
District magistrate Ravi Kumar NG said the postmortem examination of the victim would be conducted by a panel of doctors to ascertain the exact cause of death.
The victim, however, claimed her family had received threats in the past and accused the MLA.
“(He was) killed at the behest of the BJP MLA. inside the jail. We were getting threats and they killed my father,” she added while speaking to reporters.
SP of Unnao, Pushpanjali said four accused six policemen, including SHO Makhi Ashok Kumar Singh, outpost incharge and four beat constables have been suspended.
UP DGP O P Singh said a Lucknow Police team had been constituted to probe the entire matter.
The woman had on Sunday tried to immolate herself near Adityanath’s residence in Lucknow, alleging rape by the BJP MLA and his brothers. The immolation bid was, however, foiled by the police. She had alleged that the Unnao police had not registered a case against the BJP MLA despite her complaint and no action was taken, police said.
Attacking the government, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav said in a tweet, “In UP, a girl, going for coaching classes is being shot dead…Another girl accusing BJP MLA of gangrape tried to immolate herself in front of CM’s residence . Is this fear of government of ‘encounter’ that instead of criminals, woman are getting terrified?(sic)”
Congress spokesman Dwijendra Tripathi said, “The death inside a jail is mysterious. Had the government and the administration not worked under the pressure of the BJP MLA, the death could have been avoided. We demand a high-level probe.”
Sengar maintained the allegations against him were part of a conspiracy. “They belong to a low status family (‘nimn star ke log hain’). This is a conspiracy by my opponents. If I am found guilty in the probe, I am ready to face punishment,” he said. PTI
Asifa’s family to move SC for trial outside J&K
Farooq Abdullah bats for bill to award capital punishment to rapists of minors
Deepika Rajawat, the counsel of the family of eight-year-old Asifa, who was raped and murdered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district plans to move the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking the transfer of the case outside the state, sources said.
The plea comes amid alleged political interference in the case and protests in favour of the rape accused.
Lawyer Deepika Singh Rajawat along with the tribal activist Talib Hussain, who is spearheading the movement for justice for Asifa, are camping in Delhi, and meeting senior lawyers of Supreme Court regarding the case.
“We are apprehensive that the trial will not happen peacefully, seeing the condition in Jammu… Seeing that lawyers opposed it in Kathua and did not let the chargesheet proceed,” a source close to the family said.
The massive outcry over the horrific rape of the child sent political tremors in the state, as two BJP lawmakers in the Mehbooba Mufti government – Chaudhary Lal Singh and Chander Prakash Ganga -were forced to resign from their posts for attending a rally that was organised in support of the rape accused. Their resignations were accepted by Mufti on Sunday, who forwarded it to the state Governor.
‘Resigned on moral grounds’
Chaudhary Lal Singh reportedly claimed that they had attended the rally on the orders of BJP state president Sat Sharma to diffuse tension during the public gathering.
“I gave resignation on moral values. If someone is hurt because of me, I have no right to remain in that post, that is why I resigned. I also said that one must live by their conscience, and my conscience did not approve that violence and riots are caused just for the resignation of two ministers,” Singh told the media.
Singh also upheld demands for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)-led enquiry, contending that it would give clarity to all.
Farooq Abdullah demands law for death to rapists of minors
Opposition National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Sunday demanded a special session of the J&K Legislative Assembly to bring in a bill to award capital punishment to those who rape minors.
“Capital punishment must be brought in for such cases,” Abdullah told reporters.
“She (Asifa) is just like my daughter. Thank God, the nation has woken up and they have taken it very seriously. I hope justice will be done and we will bring a bill in the Assembly session wherein (if) any such incident takes place, the hanging must be brought in,” he said.
Abdullah was speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting of NC’s provincial committee for Kashmir province at the party headquarters in Nawa-e-Subha.
Rape allegations against Unnao MLA
SIT to probe charges, death of girl’s father
In apparent damage control, cops arrest Kuldeep Singh Senger’s brother
A day after the father of the girl, who had accused BJP lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Senger and his brothers of raping her, died in police custody, the Uttar Pradesh police set up a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to look into the allegations and custodial death.
The development comes on a day the MLA’s brother, Atul Singh Sengar, was arrested in Unnao.
Additional Director General (ADG, law and order) Anand Kumar said that the SIT, which will be headed by the SP, Crime, of Lucknow, will look “into the entire gamut of allegations… from the beginning of the issue in June last year (which is when the 18-year-old first complained of rape by Unnao MLA Kuldeep Singh)”.
Sources said that embarrassed by the developments, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has rolled out a damage control action plan, which include ordering the SIT probe, arrest of the BJP legislator’s brother and a parallel magisterial inquiry.
Apart from Atul Singh, police have arrested four of his aides — Baua, Vineet, Shailu and Sonu. Six policemen, including station house officer of Makhi, have been also suspended.
“Atul Singh was arrested over charges of beating the girl’s father to death in police custody. The arrest was made in Kanpur based on the orders of Director General of Police OP Singh,” an officer said.
The girl’s father was being forced to withdraw the case against the MLA. Upon refusal, he was picked up by the police late on Sunday and was allegedly roughed up in custody by Atul Singh and his aides.
He was taken to the district hospital with 18 wounds and gashes, abdominal pain and vomiting. He died soon after. The rape survivor had tried to immolate herself in front of the Uttar Pradesh CM’s residence on Sunday.
The incident triggered a political storm and public outrage in the state. A magisterial probe has also been ordered by the district administration.
Adityanath has also asked Additional Director General of Police Rajeev Krishna to investigate the matter and has promised stern action against all perpetrators. He said no one, however mighty, will be spared.
Kuldeep Singh had earlier trashed the allegations as a “conspiracy” hatched by his opponents. He had also dismissed the complainant as belonging to “low status”. AGENCIES
Kathua minor’s rape-murder was over cow slaughter, say J&K cops
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
New Delhi: The J&K Police chargesheet in the Kathua rape and murder of a minor girl has said that the mastermind instigated his juvenile nephew and six others to execute the ghastly act to drive out the nomadic Muslim community of Bakarwals from Hiranagar tehsil.
Bakarwals, a tribe that moves through seasons in the Pir Panjal range of J&K, are mainly shepherds.
The chargesheet submitted to the chief judicial magistrate, Kathua, late on Monday night said Sanji Ram, the mastermind, was “against the settlement” of Bakarwals in the tehsil, and had been “motivating” members of the Hindu community of the area to not provide them land for grazing. His co-conspirators were also “against the settlement of Bakarwals in the area” and had asked him to “chalk out a strategy for dislodging” them.
The “general impression” among the Hindu community in the tehsil was that “Bakarwals indulge in cow slaughter” and “drug trafficking” which was “turning their children into drug addicts”, the chargesheet said, adding that as a result, Hindus had been “blaming the Bakarwals on one pretext or the other and used to threaten them”.
This rivalry between the two communities in the area has resulted into registration of FIRs and counter-FIRs at various police stations of the area, the chargesheet said.
According to the crime branch investigation, the minor was held captive in a temple, using sedatives, gangraped several times through the week and even before she was killed. The eight-year-old was gang-raped also after the mastermind “performed rituals” in the place of worship.
The crime has triggered communal tension in the state, with many lawyers in the Hindu-dominated Jammu region protesting against police and demanding a CBI investigation. Two of the BJP leaders have also supported the lawyers.
2 sex workers ‘jump’ to death during raid
Mumbai: A police raid in a Grant Road building resulted in the death of two commercial sex workers aged 30 and 50 on Tuesday night. It still not clear whether the two women jumped or fell to their death from the third floor of the building after the police team landed there. The building is located merely 50 metres from D B Marg police station.
An accidental death case has been registered and the cops have begun a probe. The deceased were originally from West Bengal.
“Residents of this area had carried out a candle march last month to protest against prostitution. Police had immediately shut down places which allegedly ran prostitution rackets. Since then, police teams have been visiting various premises to find out if they have reopened. Tuesday night’s raid was part of the routine check. Two contables entered Om Niwas building to find three women and four men there. After making inquiries, the team returned to the police station,” said a police officer.
No woman constable was part of the team though. “Around 20 minutes after the police team returned from the building, a woman ran inside the police station and said that she had seen two injured women in the house galli—a narrow wedge between two buildings used as a passage for drainage—behind Om Niwas. A police team arrived and rushed the two women to J J Hospital where the older woman was declared brought dead,” said the officer. The other woman died during treatment between 1am and 2am. They had moved into the building three months back.
“Generally commercial sex workers flee or try to hide during police raids. They are also known to create cavities to hide. No such cavity was found in the rooms occupied by these two women. Sex workers also flee from house gallis which have narrow stairs or they simply climb down using pipes,” added an officer.
The officer said the department will henceforth be careful during raids to avoid such tragedies.
Unnao cops did nothing as MLA’s brother beat me’
Rape Survivor’s Dad Said In Video Days Before Death
Unnao: Days before his death, the father of the Unnao rape survivor named BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar’s brother as his attacker in a video and revealed that police were present at the time of the assault but remained mute spectators.
The rape survivor, who has alleged that Sengar had raped her along with his associates in June last year, had tried to immolate herself in front of the UP CM’s residence on Sunday.
A day later, her father died of septicaemia in judicial custody and the autopsy revealed 18 injuries on his body.
Police sources said the video was recorded by a local journalist at the Ujjain district hospital on April 3, the day Devender (name changed to protect the rape survivor’s identity) was attacked in his house by Sengar’s brother Atul and his associates.
Police didn’t help me, says dad on video
Police brought Devender to the hospital and a day later, he was arrested and sent to jail for the brawl. Though Devender had also filed an FIR against Atul, the latter was arrested only on Tuesday. “ The MLA’s brother thrashed me. They kept on beating me up, but police did not stop them,” Devender said on tape. When asked to name the person who thrashed him, he said, “Kuldip’s brother Atul.” When the local reporter asks him what triggered the fight, Devender says, “They had abducted my daughter.” He said his attackers had come armed to his house. “One of them was armed with a rifle. The goons had a gun also. Police stayed a spectator,” he is heard saying in the video.
Won’t give up the good fight’
Lawyer trying to get Kathua rape and murder victim justice says she is being pressured by senior lawyer to drop case
Deepika Thusoo Singh feels like she is waging a lonely battle. The advocate trying to get a semblance of justice to eight-year-old Asifa, whose rape in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir in January sparked an outrage across the country, says she is facing threats from members of the fraternity.
She said she has been “harassed” by a senior Jammu Bar Association member into dropping the case. “They are trying to pressure me so that I don’t get Asifa justice. But such threats will not sway me. I will continue to fight her case. I have full faith in the crime branch’s investigation.”
The senior lawyer has allegedly warned her that he “knows the means of stopping her”.
Singh says she wrote to the chief justice of the Jammu High Court immediately after receiving the threat, following which she was given a police security cover.
A large clutch of lawyers is seen as being supportive of the culprits. On Tuesday, an FIR was filed against some who tried to prevent the filing of the chargesheet.
The strike called in Jammu by the Kathua Bar Association and the Jammu Bar Association against the state police crime branch and over various issues, including the demand for a CBI probe in the Asifa case, didn’t affect the conduct of business. Although some markets were closed, most shops stayed open. Most educational institutions also operated as usual, and public transport was not affected.
Protests were held in many parts of the Valley, demanding stringent punishment for the culprits. Besides Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), a numbers of civil society groups and students hit the streets demanding fair proceedings.
With the case taking on communal hues — the Bakherwals are a minority group and the culprits have known associations with a rightwing group — political parties in the state have begun a tussle.
While some political groups want an investigation by the CBI, others have been quick to rise to the accused’s defence. Some others have questioned the settlement of “outsiders” Gujjars and Bhakerwals in Kathua. The matter escalated after two BJP ministers, Chander Parkash Ganga and Minister Lal Singh, protested the arrests. Forest Minister Lal Singh wants the CBI’s involvement. BJP spokesperson Virender Gupta asked for strict punishment for the culprits.
The National Conference demanded the trial to be shifted to a court outside of Kathua, given local lawyers’ open support of the accused. “The government will have to prove that it is not shielding culprits,” party general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said.
Another girl-child held captive, raped, killed — this one in Surat
86 Injury Marks On Unidentified Victim’s Body
Surat: Amid nationwide outrage over the gang rape and murder of an eight-year-old
in Kathua, Surat police told TOI on Sunday that an 11-year-old, whose body was found about 10 days ago, had been raped, tortured and strangled to death. There were at least 86 injury marks on her body.
There were severe injuries to the girl’s private parts caused by a blunt object, according to the autopsy report. It seems she was confined, raped and brutally tortured before being killed, cops said.
Police are yet to make any headway on the girl’s identity or the perpetrators of the ghastly crime.
Cops out to trace Surat girl’s identity
The Surat police on Sunday formed several teams to trace the identity of a girl whose body was dumped after she was raped, torured and killed, and to track down the perpetrators of the crime, following widespread protests by people and civil society groups against “police inaction”. Demanding speedy investigations into the case, Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch, led by Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mevani, protested in Mehsana town of north Gujarat.
The girl’s body was found under the bushes near a cricket stadium in Pandesara area of Surat on April 6 morning, “We will widen our probe to trace the perpetrators of the crime. All residential colonies and societies near the crime spot would be checked again to get clues. We will scan CCTV footages of nearby places,” Surat Police Commissioner Satish Sharma told TOI.
The details of the case came to light on Sunday, with Sharma holding a press conference. An FIR has been lodged under Sections 302 (murder), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 376 (rape) of the IPC and under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act against unidentified persons, Sharma said.
The police had printed 1,350 posters of the girl and circulated them on social media and declared a cash reward of Rs 20,000 for anyone helping in identifying the girl or giving information about the perpetrators, Sharma added.
An officer said the girl could have been raped, tortured and killed elsewhere and then dumped in Surat. He said the Surat police were checking with their counterparts in Odisha and West Bengal.
Kathua, Unnao horrors: Nation rallies for justice
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Protests against the brutal gangrape-cum-murder of an eight-year-old girl in J&K’s Kathua and the rape of a 16-year-old by a BJP legislator in UP’s Unnao erupted across the country on Sunday. Scores of people hit the streets, condemning the government’s response in both the cases and demanding justice for the hapless girls and their families.
In the country’s commercial capital Mumbai, a large number of people turned up at Carter Road in Bandra to protest against both the cases. Protesters carried placards and shouted slogans seeking justice for the rape victims and harsh punishment for accused people.
“The crowd that gathered here today is scared and worried. People are disappointed with corruption within the police and degrading law and order situation,” said Abha Singh, lawyer and activist.
In Gujarat, the horrors of Kathua and Unnao shook people’s conscience as hundreds thronged the streets on Sunday. Residents of Dhabgarvad locality in Ahmedabad held a protest march at which children displayed placards, expressing outrage over the Kathua rape and murder. A group of young girls sought justice for the Unnao rape survivor as well.
Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, which is led by Hardik Patel, has joined the protests. Its members held a candlelight march in Nikol area of Ahmedabad. Similar protests were also held in Vadodara, Surat and Junagadh.
Similarly, in the national Capital, hundreds of people gathered at Jantar Mantar on Sunday, under the banner “Not In My Name”. The voices echoed through Parliament Street as one among the many placards said, “Beti ko pehle bachao, phir beti padhao”.
In Chandigarh too, citybased volunteer groups, Bekhauf Azaadi and Not In My Name, along with a group of over 12 senior lawyers, organised a protest.
In Unnao’s home state UP, women gathered at the Mahatma Gandhi statue near Chowki Chauraha in Bareilly, carrying placards. They demanded capital punishment for those guilty.
In Pilibhit, hundreds of women staged protests on Sunday on all major city roads. The agitating women said the way BJP legislator Kuldeep Sengar and his men were being extended political patronage was highly condemnable.
Similar protests were witnessed in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam as well.