The gruesome rape and murder of two girls in the Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh has acquired the dimension of a caste conspiracy.
It has also emerged as an opportunity for Mayawati and her Bahujan Samaj Party to revive after a disastrous performance in the general elections. Of course, it is one more blot on the government of Akhilesh Yadav, the aura of which is fading fast.
The incident has sent shock waves throughout the country and brought out the poll defeat-struck Rahul Gandhi and Mayawati out into the heat and dust of active politics.
The alacrity with which Mayawati reacted to the incident and reached the spot, threatening to sit on a dharna if justice was not done in the case underlines the potential this incident has to trigger the revival of the political fortunes of the BSP, decimated to zero seats in the Lok Sabha from its previous 21.
The two cousins aged 14 and 15, were reported missing from their house in a village in Badaun on the night of Tuesday 27 May and their bodies were found hanging from a mango tree in the village in the Ushait area the next morning.
The village, though in Badaun district, falls within the Dataganj assembly constituency of the Aonla Lok Sabha constituency. The MLA from Datapur is Sinod Kumar Shakya of the BSP. The area is dominated by the Shakya community, which is included among the most backward castes.
The state government sought to shrug off the charge that it did not apply the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on the accused in the Badaun case by claiming that the Shakyas did not have SC status. “The caste of the victims does not attract the provisions of the said act,” said a police officer in Lucknow.
Way back in 2010, the Samajwadi Party (SP) had announced that it would launch a campaign for the inclusion of 17 most backward castes (MBCs) among the SCs. These 17 castes included Shakyas, Rajbhar, Saini, Maurya and others.
However, members of this community are more inclined towards Mayawati and her BSP. This was evident from their willingness to accept the Rs 10 lakh compensation she offered when she visited the village, a day after they refused to accept the compensation offered by the state government.
The members of the families of the two girls had said they had no faith in the Uttar Pradesh police or government and insisted on a CBI probe. Furthermore, on the day of Mayawati’s visit, the men and children of the village volunteered to level the ground for the temporary helipad for Mayawati’s arrival and also cleaned up the street where she had to walk to reach the victims’ houses.
Reports quoted the womenfolk of the victims’ families as saying that they accepted compensation from Mayawati as they felt that she was their real benefactor, whereas the money offered by the Akhilesh government would have meant ignoring the role of the police which, they felt, was involved in the heinous crime.
Although Mayawati has announced that her party will not contest any of the by-elections due for the Lok Sabha and legislative assembly, she is keen to establish herself as a ground-level politician after realizing that her party has lost its connect with her Dalit constituency. The Badaun incident has given her just the right opportunity.
In the Badaun incident, the outlines of caste discrimination had also come to light with reports that when the father of one of the girls went to the police station to lodge a missing persons report, the police station in-charge first asked him his caste, and after his reply asked him to wait for two hours.
The missing girls, he reportedly told the distraught man, would either return in two hours or be found hanging from some tree the next day.
This is exactly what happened the next day. Incidentally, the policemen found involved in the ghastly crime are Yadavs, and so are the three brothers who had been arrested. Most of the police station staff are also Yadavs.
“The Yadavs generally never have any social sympathy towards members of the SCs as was evident in the infamous guest house incident of 2 June, 1995, when SP men had cornered Mayawati in a room in Lucknow’s State Guest House with the intention of harming her,” says VK Sharma, a veteran political analyst who has been studying political developments in UP closely.
Badaun is one of the five seats that Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family members had won in the recent Lok Sabha election. Badaun is represented by Mulayam’s nephew Dharmendra Yadav.
On Monday, many new cases of violence against women were reported from Bareilly, Meerut, Fatehpur and Firozabad. In the Bareilly incident, a 22-year-old woman was gang-raped, and forced to swallow acid, after which her face was burnt with acid and she was strangled. Her body was recovered from a field in Aithpura village on Saturday.
In Meerut, some unidentified men abducted and gang-raped a 10-year-old girl playing outside her home and later also tried to run her over with their car. She survived with multiple fractures.
In Fatehpur, a 20-year old girl was held by a man at knifepoint in her house in Gavada village. The culprit was later arrested. In the fourth incident a woman was allegedly gang-raped and thrown in a ditch in Sofipur village in Firozabad district.
A highly rejuvenated Bharatiya Janata Party has pounced upon the opportunity to corner Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav with state BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai leading a noisy protest of women BJP workers in front of the chief minister’s office in Lucknow on Monday.
“We will also approach the state’s governor and demand the intervention of the Central government as the state government has failed completely in managing the law and order situation in the state,” he said.
It is not an everyday crime incident that evokes the United Nations to react in condemnation.
For Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, it is an ignominious distinction that is hard to forget for a long time, when the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson Stephane Dujjaric strongly condemned the Badaun incident.
“The rape and death of the two girls, who were hanged from a tree, is a horrendous crime. There are some incidents (where) words are difficult to choose. It was clearly a horrendous incident,” Dujjaric was reported to have said. It is rarely that the UN issues a reaction on such localized crimes.
Updated Date: Jun 03, 2014 09:37:09 IST