Bangalore: With clouds of grief and anger looming large over Gaya, the power loom city in Bihar, following the gruesome rape and murder of a 16-year-old girl, more than 300 people, mostly from Gaya’s Patwatoli residing in Bengaluru, gathered at Freedom Park in India’s Silicon Valley demanding a CBI inquiry and a speedy trial into the case.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the protesters, both men, women and children, came to the venue with placards and banners and shouted slogans like “we want justice”, “we want CBI investigation” for hours. As the sun started to set, the protest turned into a peaceful candlelight vigil and floral tributes to the victim.
“The police are conveying wrong stories to the media. Police forcefully took the statement from a five-year-old child studying in UKG and reportedly solved the case without any medical or forensic investigation terming the case as one of honour killing. A serious CBI investigation must be carried out along with a forensic report,” says Jitendra Kumar, who organised the protest.
Rakhi, who is from Gaya, and is currently working in Bengaluru, describes how her peaceful hometown has become unsafe in recent times for women and her family members. “I am scared to even go to my city, and even more scared to step out of my house. Now, the environment in Patwatoli is fearful. People there are scared. The police are trying to curb the evidence to save the real culprits. The sister of the victim says that she was being forced to give false statement else they would be jailed. We all (will) protest until we get justice."
The Gaya police, last Friday, arrested the girl's father along with other family members and his friend. The father of the victim and his friend were produced in the local court, which sent them to 14 days judicial custody on the charges of hatching a conspiracy to eliminate the victim. The mother and sister of the victim were released in the evening of the same day.
Later, the case took a new turn with family members of the deceased alleging that they were subjected to third-degree torture to admit the incident to be a case of honour killing.
Shelley Das, a Bengaluru-based social activist who came and led the protest, told 101Reporters how she came across a tweet about the protest and joined them at Freedom Park to raise her voice against the police. "There is a lot of twist and fabrication in the story and that hurts the most. We all will stand together unless we get justice and peace for the girl,” she adds.
Towards the evening a few more people joined the protest and the voices grew louder. The anger towards the incident was visible in the protester's eyes, including children, as they stood holding placards for hours.
In Gaya, people who organised protests against the murder and alleged gangrape of the minor girl have complained of receiving threats for carrying out protest rallies.
Saurabh Ranjan (name changed to protect identity), who organised a candle march from Patwatoli to Gaya Chowk last week, was forced to keep his mobile number switched off after receiving threats for his activism.
Patwatoli, from where the victim belonged, is also known as the Manchester of Bihar with over 1,000 power looms operating out of the area dominated by Patwa weavers. The locality is also known for producing IITians as several students from Patwatoli invariably feature in the list of successful IIT-JEE aspirants.
A timeline of the event:
28 December, 2018
- A 16-year-old girl goes missing.
4 January, 2019
- An FIR is registered after pressure from local media.
- Mutilated body of the girl is found in a farm field, about 700 metres from her house.
- A candle march is taken out from Patwatoli to Gaya Chowk by over 10,000 protesters.
- After the candle march, the police take the victim's family in custody.
- Mother and sister of the rape victim are released. Both of them later claimed that they were forced to give false statements, and threatened with jail.
The authors are freelance writers and members of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters
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Updated Date: Jan 14, 2019 21:21 PM