Barely have the voices of the protests against sexual assault of four minor girls in Hisar district in Haryana subdued, another horrific display of sexual violence has occurred in Badayun district of Uttar Pradesh. Two Dalit cousins – both minors – were brutally gang raped, murdered and hung from a tree on May 27, 2014. The hanging of the bodies from a tree in full display by dominant communities, which is reminiscent of the dark ages, is most condemnable. This is one among a growing number of incidents of sexual and caste violence. This increasing sexual violence against women calls upon each one of us to fight for a society that ensures both safety and dignity to its citizens.
On Tuesday, the night of 27th May, the two cousins had stepped out of their house in Katra village of Badayun district to relieve themselves. They were raped and murdered allegedly by three brothers of the Yadav community and hung from a tree. The local police was approached in the frantic search that ensued with parents, relatives and neighbors. The bodies were discovered at 4 am the next morning on a tree. Although the police was informed immediately after the girls went missing, they did not act promptly and turned away the family. This is a clear dereliction of duty. It is only after the protest against the rapist-killers at the police chowki grew, that the police reached the spot.
The Chief Minister has finally ordered a CBI probe into the incident. Five accused have been arrested including two policemen who have been dismissed from service. The failure of the government along with its administration and police is not new; but the sheer indifference and lack of accountability have touched a new low as the Chief Minister of the state publicly retorted “that at least you are not hurt”.
This incident is yet another example of using sexual violence as a tool of caste oppression and communal violence to subjugate Dalits and other sections lower in the caste hierarchy. The fact that state is negligent, lackadaisical, and sometimes complicit in such incidents increases the problem manifold. After the series of incidents in Bhagana of Hisar district in Haryana, where Jats, the dominant caste, have forced Dalits to leave villages with continued atrocities culminating in sexual violence on Dalit women, Badayun is a poster displaying the worst manifestation of casteism prevalent in the state of UP.
Even though in this incident Dalit girls were raped and murdered, the Prevention of Atrocities(SC/ST) Act has not been invoked. This raises doubt over the seriousness of the government in protecting interests of the Dalit and OBC communities. While the Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST) Act is there as a token, it is never used in full effect to quell the rise of caste violence.
The blatant disregard of human rights, civil rights, and basic decency has created a protective shield for perpetrators of the crime and at the same time dispelled all illusions of equality, social justice, and protection of law as glorified by the Constitution of India. The incident also calls our attention to the sore reality that even after more than 60 years of independence, the country has not been able to provide toilets and sanitation facilities to its people. It is the poorest and most marginalized sections in rural India as well as in urban slums, especially women, who are subjected to such humiliating conditions further deepening their vulnerabilities.
PUDR condemns all forms of sexual violence, especially in a case where sexual oppression is a tool of dominating a community of people.
PUDR condemns the attitude of the UP state government in remaining a mute force, and making irresponsible statements not thinking the least on a sensitive issue, thereby emboldening repetition of such incidents.
PUDR demands immediate measures to be taken by the Uttar Pradesh government in reparation of affected families and ensuring a fair trial to be conducted at the earliest.
Asish Gupta and D. Manjit