3 years on, no justice for rape victims of Muzaffarnagar riots: Amnesty International says Centre and state govt 'failed'

The Uttar Pradesh government has failed to make timely investigation and prosecute the seven cases of gang-rape filed following the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots and deliver justice, Amnesty International India said in a press release published on Thursday.

 3 years on, no justice for rape victims of Muzaffarnagar riots: Amnesty International says Centre and state govt failed

Representational image. AFP.

The briefing furnishes the details of seven Muslim women who came forward after the September 2013 riots to report that they had been gang-raped by men of the Jat community. Three years have passed but not a single person has been convicted in any of the cases. Despite amendments to India’s laws in 2013 requiring trials in rape cases to be expedited, the trials have been very slow.

“The Uttar Pradesh government has failed the seven women who have fought enormous odds to pursue their cases,” said Aakar Patel, Executive Director of  Amnesty International India. “The government’s apparent lack of interest in delivering justice also goes against the spirit of the legal reforms passed in 2013 to end impunity for violence against women.”

Amnesty International interviewed six of the seven gang-rape survivors who had filed FIRs, between July 2016 and January 2017. In all the cases, there was a delay in filing the charges and even after it was done the trials took a long time to begin.

In three cases, the survivors identified the men who had raped them in their complaints, but then changed their statements in court. Some of them later admitted that they were forced to do so after facing mounting pressure regarding their safety and that of their families, and a lack of adequate security from the authorities. “We are still scared when we leave home,” said one of the survivors told Amnesty India.

Human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover, who has represented the survivors in the apex court, said, “We are saying yes, you must stand up, in court, in a rape trial, and give evidence, and your dignity must be vindicated. But for that what should she do? She should either put her own life or the life of her children or other family members at stake.”

The state police also did not apply  Section 376(2)(g) of the Indian Penal Code, which specifically recognises  rape as an offence during communal violence, in the FIRs registered in September and October 2013 and February 2014. There were delays in filing FIRs, conducting medical examinations and recording the statements of the survivors before a magistrate.

All seven survivors have received little assistance from authorities in helping them rebuild their lives despite suffering enormous damage to their livelihoods. Many of the families had to arrange to provide food to the constables appointed to protect them.

“The new government in Uttar Pradesh, which will take office in March, must ensure that the investigations and prosecutions in all the cases are pursued vigorously without undue delay, and that survivors are provided full reparation. The central government must enact a law to prevent and respond to communal

violence, and establish a comprehensive victim and witness protection programme,” said Aakar Patel.

Updated Date: Feb 09, 2017 18:38:56 IST