Rape on the rise in UP

GREATER NOIDA, INDIA - MARCH 9: Relatives and villagers gather during the funeral of a girl who was allegedly raped and set on fire, at Tigri village, on March 9, 2016 in Greater Noida, India. A 16-year-old girl who was raped and set on fire at Tigri village under Bisrakh police station this week died on Wednesday in the New Delhi hospital where she was being treated for severe burns. A 20-year-old man allegedly entered the girl's house on 7 March and assaulted her. He has been arrested and faces rape and murder charges. (Photo by Burhaan Kinu/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Neither the police or the administration swing into action in the case of rape of minors and women of the SC/ST community. Is this why these heinous crimes continue with impunity?

There have been at least 10 cases of rape in Uttar Pradesh reported by the media in August of this year. This will not be even the tip of the iceberg as the National Crime Record Bureau’s data shows that 11 cases of rape are reported in the northern state every day, with crimes increasing by 20% from 2016 to 2019.

Shobhana, who works in Uttar Pradesh for Dalit Women Fight, an organisation working to amplify the voices of Dalit women for justice, says the data reveals only one-third of the actual problem in the state. The local police stations, she says, cull the number to show fewer such cases, “they don’t want the crime graph to show a higher rate. And this is not just with the present government, earlier too it was the same.”

She does admit, however, that things have gotten worse in the last five years. Working at grassroot level for the past decade, she says every district has a situation of heinous crimes being perpetrated on minors and on women of SC/ST community.

What further compounds the situation of injustice is that compensation that should be given does not reach the victim or their family on time. One such case she has been pursuing with district-level officials is from Jaunpur.

The victim, an 11-year-old girl, went missing on August 6. She had been playing with her younger sibling, a 5-year-old girl. “They were just playing and drifted a little away from their home”, Shobana says. “The elder sister was kidnapped by someone known to them, and the younger child knew this. She identified him to her parents as the man who had taken her sister away. While the parents informed the police station, no action was taken. Instead the police personnel who arrived told the parents to look for their child themselves.”

The mother is someone who can’t speak and the father is suffering from debilitating tuberculosis; they are poor and belong to the SC community — everything, Shobhana says, which works against them. “It was the police’s responsibility to register a case. Instead, on the third day, (August 8) her body was found in a cornfield. Her neck had been slashed, her limbs broken and there was also acid poured on her face. The man in question was arrested the same day.”

The people who owned the field happened to go and check their crops. “The husband and wife duo then discovered the body of the young girl. Everyone gathered and the police reached half an hour later”. Shobhana points out that if the police had taken quick action on the same day of her kidnapping, the child may have been rescued alive.

The parents have already been subjected to the loss of their child in the most abominable way, then the lackadaisical attitude of the police, and in the following weeks the administration’s too, who have not yet given the family any form of compensation guaranteed to them. Shobhana points out that district officials mostly think that the victim (or family) is greedy for the money. “They always have a negative attitude towards them”.

“The postmortem confirmed rape and attack by acid, yet no compensation has been given to the family. The first instalment of compensation for SC/ST should be received right after the FIR is filed, and the compensation is given according to the crime committed under the special act. The second instalment comes after the chargesheet is submitted in court. And chargesheets in case of SC/ST case must be submitted within 60 days while chargesheet for POCSO cases should reach within 30 days. In the case of death, like in this case, the family should receive Rs 10 lakh immediately under the Rani Laxmi Bai Samman Koch,” Shobhana points out.

Almost a month has passed, but the family are yet to receive a penny. And Shobhana says this is not a stray incident as all the districts of UP are facing a bad situation of law and order. “This case, like others happening frequently, are POCSO ones, which involve attacks on children from poor families. The other kind of frequent attacks are on women inside their own homes. The ones who have young girls especially are targeted. It is a very bad situation in UP”.

Yet UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has focused on another point, which is “love jihad”. He has told senior officials of the state Home Department to prepare a plan to stop these kind of  incidents. He has, however, directed officials to invoke the stringent National Security Act against those involved in the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl in Lakhimpur Kheri district.

According to the police, the suspect, who has been identified as Dilshad, raped and murdered the girl while she was on her way back home on August 24. According to relatives of the girl, she had gone to a neighbouring town to fill up a scholarship form. She did not return.

The young girl’s mutilated body was found near a dried-up pond, around 200 metres from her village. In this case, the CM announced ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the bereaved family and ensured the case would be heard in a fast-track court.

A week before the above rape and murder case, another case from Lakhimpur Kheri had been reported. The victim, a 13-year-old girl, was gang-raped and killed. Her body was found in a sugarcane field reportedly owned by one of the accused after a brief search by her family. Two men from the village itself were arrested. The victim’s father said his daughter had been strangled. Her eyes had been gouged out and her tongue was cut.

Manoj Kumar Gupta, an advocate with the Delhi High Court, has sent a letter of request for compensation to the District and Sessions judge of Lakhimpur Kheri. He points out that in the case of loss of life and gangrape, the compensation given is a minimum of Rs 5 lakh with an upper limit of Rs 10 lakh, but in the case of a minor, the limit of compensation is deemed to be 50% higher than the amount mentioned. Yet in the case of the minor child, the family is yet to receive help.

Gupta has also written to the District and Sessions Judge of Hapur, under whose jurisdiction a 6-year-old was raped on August 6, in Chaklathera village near Garh Mukhteshwar, Hapur. She too has not received compensation including medical benefits for her recovery after the brutal assault. The advocate tells us it’s critical that compensation in POCSO cases be addressed by courts immediately.

We spoke with Ld. Addl. District & Sessions Judge (POCSO) Kamlesh Kumar who said he has not heard of the case, and that the file has not reached him yet. “I don’t know anything, don’t know about any file nor about the child. The files are getting transferred from another court”, he said. He blamed the slow moving of cases due to the lockdown, and while he did not want to comment on the number of cases of POCSO and if they had increased, he said “they keep coming”.

(Cover: Relatives and villagers gather during the funeral of a girl who was raped and set on fire, at Tigri village, on March 9, 2016, in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh  PHOTO: Getty Images)

(Cover: Relatives and villagers gather during the funeral of a girl who was raped and set on fire, at Tigri village, on March 9, 2016, in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh  PHOTO: Getty Images)

+ posts