Alwar: Protests have broken out over the recent gangrape of a Dalit woman in Thanagazi on 26 April. Over the last three days, protesters have taken to the street against general apathy and lack of security by local police. Political leaders and their party workers have also joined the protests, demanding quick action and severe punishment for the accused.
On 8 May, roads were blocked throughout the day in Thanagazi by protesters. After the demonstration, they moved towards the Alwar-Jaipur road, which also remained blocked throughout the day. Later in the day, a maha-panchayat was organised in the area. Political leaders threatened mass protests if the police failed to take strict action against the accused.
Protesters blocked all roads on Thanagazi-Jaipur marg. Despite the heat, they came down in large numbers and chanted slogans against the police administration and government. Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student body of the BJP, organised demonstrations at the Rajasthan University campus in Jaipur, where they burnt effigies of Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot. Chants of “Ashok Gehlot murdabad” and “fansi do, fansi do” (hang them, hang them) by college-going students filled the campus.
Suresh Khinchdi, Additional SP of Thanagazi, said five of the six accused have been arrested so far. Indaraj, Mukesh, Ashok, Hansraj and Mahesh are in police custody, while the sixth, Chote Lal, is absconding. Khinchdi has requested locals to avoid circulating the “heinous” video.
Hem Singh Bhadana, a BJP former MLA from Thanagazi Vidhan Sabha constituency who met the survivor and her family on Thursday, is being accused of trying to bribe the family to protect the accused. Effigies of Bhadana were burnt by local residents as a part of the protest.
“I have not put anyone under any sort of pressure. I believe a CBI inquiry should take place for this case. I am accused under political conspiracy. I am not even aware of the names of the accused,” Bhadana said in response to the bribe allegations.
S Sengathir, Inspector General (IG), Jaipur Range, said, “As many as 14 teams have been formed in various districts of Rajasthan to investigate the case. Action is being taken as and when proof is found,” said. He also pointed out that the identity of the survivor should not be revealed.
Despite that, photos/videos of various party leaders and members of several social organisations at the survivor’s residence have been circulated on Facebook and Instagram. This has compromised the survivor and her family’s identity on social media.
The incident took place on 26 April when the survivor and her husband were travelling on a bike. They were then stopped and stripped by five men who then raped the woman. A case of rape and atrocities under the SC/ST Act was registered by the survivor and her family on 2 May.
Congress blamed for delayed action
Political blame game is rampant; the Congress government has been accused by the Opposition of suppressing the case — which was registered only on 2 May due to the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in the state.
According to the survivor’s family, they had called Tikaram Jully, Rajasthan government’s labour minister and the MLA from Alwar Rural, on the day of the incident. But he responded by saying that he was busy with elections.
Jully, in his defence, admitted that he did receive a call from the family but told them that he was in an election meeting and would respond after the meeting. He also highlighted police negligence and stated that call logs of all police officers involved in the case are under investigation.
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Union minister and BJP candidate from Jaipur Rural Lok Sabha constituency, accused the Congress-led government in the state of not carrying out a stringent police investigation. He was accompanied by several senior BJP leaders like Vasudev Devnani, Ashok Parnami and BJP state president Madan Lal Saini.
Kirodi Lal Meena, Rajasthan Rajya Sabha MP from BJP, has demanded a CBI inquiry into the case, calling it “embarrassing”. “The entire police station is to be blamed,” he said.
The culprits had filmed the crime and when the video went viral on 6 May, it was only then that the police took action and quick response teams were formed to look for the accused. When the family approached the police to file a complaint, the ongoing Lok Sabha elections were cited as the reason for a delay in action by the police.
Mamta Bhupesh, minister for women and child development, after meeting the survivor and her family, stated justice for the survivor is a “priority” and that “immediate action” was taken by the government by suspending the station house officer. “This is not the time to play politics,” she said while speaking to the media.
On Tuesday, Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot “condemned” the incident and told the media that senior police officers in the state have been instructed to take “strict” action against the accused. “The government is fully committed to women's protection and has been directed to give special attention to all police officers,” he said.
(Authors are freelance writers and a members of 101Reporters.com.)
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Updated Date: May 09, 2019 22:09:45 IST