Hapur: Shabana (name changed) of Hapur, Uttar Pradesh always thought lawyers help litigants get justice, but instead she was attacked for pursuing a rape case against a lawyer.
“When lawyers come forward to take law and order in their own hands, you can imagine the fate of the justice system,” says the 34-year-old single mother of an eight-year-old girl who was allegedly attacked by a mob of lawyers, both men and women, at the Hapur district court on 10 August.
The incident took place when Shabana, who got divorced six months ago, was called to the district court to record her statement in the presence of the magistrate after she accused a lawyer, Anwar, of raping her on 6 August at her maternal house in Majipura village. She had filed a criminal case under Section 376.
"I am not afraid of anyone. In Yogi’s regime, the cases of rape and sexual assault have gone up. There is no justice and security for women. Tear their clothes, rape them, but there is no action taken. If the government cannot get you justice and security, then why are they in power?" asks Shabana.
"On Friday, I was taken to court under police custody. I could sense something fishy. Suddenly, a mob of lawyers including both males and females attacked me. By the time I could understand anything, my burqa was torn into pieces. I was abused and beaten badly. The sad part was that not only me, but the police present there were also targeted. Female constable Puja was someone who witnessed the abuse," bemoans Shabana.
"I can very well identify all the lawyers who attacked me, but I don’t know their names. I am getting life threats. So much has happened by now. The culprit and his aides are out of the police’s reach. No action can been seen at police’s end. This could be because the matter concerns lawyers. If the police cannot control things, who else can? All I want is justice," she says.
Discussing the reason she had approached the lawyer in the first place, Shabana says she had given a sum of Rs 1,50,000 to a woman she knew. Since, she did return it, Shabana decided to see a lawyer.
"During my meeting with the lawyer, we exchanged phone numbers. Thereafter, I started getting his calls from different numbers as he asked me to come and sign documents pertaining to the case. I refused to go, saying there was no one at home," she says. She would get around three to four calls in a day from Anwar, says Shabana, adding that on 6 August, the lawyer insisted on visiting her to get the papers signed, and she did not object to that.
"Within no time, he (Anwar) was at my house. He asked me to get a pen to sign the papers. But, before I could find a pen, the lawyer forcefully caught hold of me and assaulted me on the tip of a knife," she claims.
Shabana says she is thankful that her mother entered the house at that very moment and found her screaming for help. “Somehow, both of us managed to catch hold of the culprit. The neighbours had also gathered by then and helped us call the police, who took the lawyer into custody."
Superintendent of police (SP), Hapur, Sankalp Sharma, says a case under Section 323 of the IPC for voluntarily causing hurt was registered at Hapur police station against 20 unidentified lawyers last Saturday.
"Probe is under way. In first instance, they were two female lawyers who started the attack followed by a mob of male advocates," says Sharma.
"The question is how to identify the so-called culprits. We are moving an application to access CCTV footage of cameras installed outside the CJM court and proceedings would be swifter if the CJM permits. Arrests will be done once we have the evidence," Sharma adds.
There are allegations that the lawyers are supporting the advocate who has been accused of rape. However, Hapur Bar Association president Sanjay Kansal refused to comment on the case or the allegation against lawyers.
"We can’t even engage with an advocate. They (lawyers) are spying on our every move. Previously, Shabana was getting threats. Now my family members and I are being followed and pressurised not to help her. How can one think of justice and fair trial when these lawyers are lobbying against a person who has suffered sexual assault," asks Shane Alam, village headman of Majipura.
The authors are Uttar Pradesh-based freelance writers and members of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters
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Updated Date: Aug 15, 2018 15:08:46 IST