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Rohtak horror: where Dalit women and children are rape targets

Shriya Mohan | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST
QUICK PILL
What happened
  • Rohtak has recently been rocked by a double gang rape case
  • 5 men who raped a Dalit girl in 2013, have done the same thing again to the victim
  • But this is only a glimpse of the Rohtak horror story
What\'s the problem
  • Dalit women and kids are raped with impunity in the district
  • Figures say that about 26 rapes happen every month
More in the story
  • What do such alarming figures say about Rohtak?
  • What is the reason behind such terrible rapes in the district?

The waiting area at Ward 24 in Haryana's PGIMS Medical Hospital in Rohtak is swarming with journalists, cameramen and security guards.

In a closely guarded room inside lies D, a 20-year-old BSc Mathematics Honours student from one of Rohtak's premier colleges, who was brutally gang raped by five men on 13 June as she was returning alone from college.

The incident occurred at 2pm. Many hours went by before a passerby found D at a secluded place some distance away from Supra Chowk and alerted the police. She was unconscious and bleeding through her torn clothes.

By the time D's parents were called it was 6pm.

D had not just been raped. She'd been strangled, stripped, beaten and slapped hard on her face. "They just stopped short of killing her," recalls her brother.

"The first thing she signalled to me when she saw me was 'Wohi Paanch'," describes D's mother.

D pushed her thumb and enclosed fist behind her shoulder and then opened up her five fingers to indicate - "the same five".

And this is why the Rohtak double rape has a chill running down everybody's spine.

2013: the year that changed it all

D was earlier raped in 2013, when she was just 17 years old, by the same five men when she and her family lived in Bhiwani. She was studying in the 11th standard then.

The names tumble out of her brother's mouth quickly - Amit, Jagmohan, Sandeep, Akash and Mausam.

Amit was her neighbour in Bhiwani and the rest were all unknown faces to D. Together they had shown up outside her school, dragged her away in a car, drugged her and gang raped her.

Only two of them were arrested and soon released on bail. The rest never even had to appear in court.

It was then that the family, belonging to the Chamaar community of the Dalit caste, moved to Rohtak to start a new life. D's mother was a tailor and her father was a wage labourer. It's been two years since.

D was a math topper throughout her school life. Last year, when she enrolled into a BSc Mathematics Honours at Rohtak, she aced her first year exams, finally moving on from her traumatic past.

Last Wednesday, when she had gone to enroll into the second year of the programme, horror was just waiting to unfold. It is a terrible moment of déjà vous.

The same five men, who had raped D in 2013, dragged her away. The same substance was used to drug her and she was raped in the same violent manner.

The horror of it all

Amit, Jagmohan and Sandeep have been arrested and kept in police remand. While the police asked for 10 days of custody, the court only granted them only four.

Of the remaining two, one has been identified.

"The fifth accused is yet to be identified. We'll get to him soon," assured DGP Muhammad Akil to media persons thronging outside Ward 24 on Wednesday.

"We have formed an SIT consisting of two DSPs, one male and one female, and 4 investigating officers," assured Akil also warning that it will take time to pull out all the complexities involved.

A dedicated police officer has also been deployed to offer security protection to the family.

A rape ward

At the PGIMS nearly all the staff, security and some patients claim they know of one or two rape victims admitted at any given point of time.

"Did you meet the three-year-old in the downstairs ward?"

"There is one that came in just yesterday."

"There was one woman who was discharged after she died here from the rape injuries."

It is tough to wrap one's head around the sheer acceptance of rape in the district.

"On some days we see two or three rape victims a day in this hospital," a female security staff told Catch on condition of anonymity.

T's father sits on his chappals on the floor outside Ward 15, the hospital's only paediatric surgery ward.

June when her mother went to pick her up from school, outside Rohtak, she was missing.

T is five-years-old. Because she was born premature she looks like a weak three-year-old. On 11 June, when her mother went to pick her up from her school, on the outskirts of Rohtak, she was missing. The school staff and her mother searched frantically for T. She was found some distance away, crying, severely bleeding and traumatised.

They brought her to PGIMS and simultaneously lodged an FIR.

Her private parts were so badly torn that she had to undergo immediate surgery.

"She can't stand strangers. She goes into convulsions even if she spots a man at a distance. Then we spend a long time trying to bring her back to normal," says her father, his voice choked with tears.

He teaches social sciences at a government school in Adchin Gaon, a few kilometres away from Rohtak.

In the choice between fighting for her justice through media and restoring her life back to normal, her father has chosen to save his energies for the latter.

On 18 July an 18-year-old boy named Jugnoo from a neighbouring school was arrested in Sonipat who admitted to committing the rape.

T's father says, "Justice must be delivered immediately. If this hearing is going to take 10 years that's useless."

Unemployment, patriarchy and rapes on the rise

According to government statistics, the number of rapes reported nationwide rose 50% between 2001 and 2011, when police registered 23,582 cases.

Over the same period in Haryana, the figure rose nearly 85% to 733. Women's rights groups feel that the last few years have witnessed an even sharper spike.

According to an RTI that was filed by the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), they found that in the last four years 125 rapes have taken place in Rohtak alone.

According to an RTI report 125 rapes have taken place in Rohtak in the last 4 years

But over 90% of rapes go unrecorded in India. That translates to roughly 26 'actual' rapes each month.

Their record of local newspaper clippings show 26 rapes of women and children that occurred between 1 to 15 of July alone.

Haryana State General Secretary for AIDWA, Rajkumari Dahiya feels that the state's growing unemployment is cause for youth mindlessly diverting their energies towards the thrill of committing sexual crimes.

According to an Indian Express report, Haryana's employment exchanges saw several applicants in recent years but abysmally low number of jobs were offered.

Between 2004 and 2014, in Rohtak, 1,49,160 persons enrolled with the employment exchange and only 733 got jobs.

18-year-old Jugnoo, for instance, was studying in 9th grade. He had failed repeatedly and was still at school. D's rapists were part time drivers, property brokers or land owners - financially comfortable and unemployed.

In Haryana caste determines justice

There is an even more worrying trend Haryana is witnessing. Dalit women and children are being raped like never before.

On 4 June, a Dalit domestic help named Neetu, a mother of six children, was raped and killed in a desolate part of Rohtak's Sector 3.

By the time her body was found all her internal organs were missing and she was just bones. No arrests have been made so far.

"Almost all victims are Dalit and almost all the accused are upper caste," says Savitri, joint secretary of Haryana, AIDWA.

"The poor and backward castes are vulnerable in every sense. They have no voice, no agency and are utterly powerless. This makes them easy targets for sexual crimes," feels Dahiya.

There appears to be a simple reason why only two of D's rapists, Amit and Jagmohan, were even arrested and given easy bail in 2013 while the other three were allowed to go scot-free despite perpetrating a heinous crime of raping a minor. All five of D's rapists, barring one, belonged to the upper caste.

Their caste offers them so much impunity that they could get bail in 2013, offer D's family several lakhs of rupees for withdrawing the case, which when refused, irked them enough to commit a brutal gang rape a second time, with identical precision, in broad daylight.

Jugnoo is a Chamaar belonging to the Dalit caste. He enjoys no such impunity. He was arrested within days of committing the rape and still remains in police custody.

"This government has been so casteist in its politics and every single aspect of administration that even the police and the justice system has been tilted in the favour of the upper castes ," says Naveen Jai Hind, Haryana leader of the Aam Admi Party.

D's brother says with some thought, "We've decided that we won't let D study anymore. She had big dreams. She wanted to become an IAS or IPS officer and fight for women. But it's too dangerous. Who will stand up for her?"

"We want justice. They should be hanged. But we don't feel safe anymore in Haryana. We will try to move to someplace else," he says.

With inputs from Shadab Moizee

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

Also Read: Haryana gangrape survivor gangraped again by same five men

Also Read: Haryana Women's Commission records Rohtak gangrape victim's statement

Also Read: Jat Reservation Stir: Army called in Rohtak, four other districts

First published: 21 July 2016, 10:35 IST
 
Shriya Mohan @ShriyaMohan

An editor and writer of development stories at Catch, Shriya has 8 years of experience as a development journalist, holds a Masters degree in Public Policy from the National University of Singapore and is a two-time winner of the National Foundation for India media fellowship award. When she isn't exploring the universe with her two-year-old daughter, she chronicles public anger and shelters relevant stories that don't hang sexily on news pegs.

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