Action Alert: 4 Dalit girls raped in Haryana, State and Privileged communities try to silence the victims

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information concerning the kidnapping and rape of four dalit girls in the north Indian state of Haryana. The crime was committed to force dalits from exercising their legitimate right to equal treatment with dignity, and the local village headman is alleged to be one of the co-conspirators. The incident took place on 23 March 2014 in Bhagana village in Hisar district of Haryana. It has taken two days for the state police to register a crime, subject the victims to medical examination, and facilitate testimony. The five accused have been arrested. But, victims and their families allege that the investigation is stalled and will suffer due to bias against them.

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CASE NARRATIVE:

On 23 March, at about 8 p.m., when 4 dalit girls of Bhagana Village, Hisar District, Haryana, went out into the fields to fetch water, five men kidnapped them. The men arrived in a car. They forced the girls into the vehicle, drugged them, and then proceeded to rape them. The girls were ultimately dumped at the Bhatinda Railway Station, an estimated 170 kilometres away.

On 24 March, the four fathers of the victims visited the village headman, Rakesh, to inform him about their missing children. Rakesh informed the girls’ fathers that he and his uncle, Virendra, were waiting for the fathers to approach them and seek help.

The fathers sought Rakesh’s help to lodge a police complaint. The headman initially refused to do so. When the fathers said that if Rakesh would not help they would go on their own to the local police station to file a missing persons’ complaint, Rakesh agreed to help. Rakesh, then, to the utter surprise of the fathers said that he knew where the girls were. He said the girls were at Bhatinda railway station. And, that he and Virendra would accompany the fathers to pick up their daughters from the station.

Immediately, the victim’s family, along with Rakesh and Virendra, travelled to the railway station. There, as informed by Rakesh, they found the four girls. The girls were in a state of torment and totally disoriented. On the way back to the village, Rakesh threatened the girls not to lodge a complaint or speak to the police about what had happened to them.

The girls and their families refused to succumb to this threat. They collectively decided to lodge a complaint about the incident. On 25 March, at about 10 a.m., the girls along and their family members approached the Hisar General Hospital for the girls to undergo a medical examination. They had also, before going to the hospital, met with local police through the office of the Superintendent of Police, Hisar, Ms. Manisha Chaudhury.

Unfortunately, hospital authorities ignored the victims for a long time. As late as 11:30 p.m. on the same day, the doctor at the hospital had examined but one of the four victims. By the time the examination of all the girls were completed it was 1:30 a.m., 26 March. The victims’ families allege that police officers, instead of helping the girls, contributed to the delay and threatened the girls from proceeding with the case.

After medical examination, a police officer took the girls to the residence of the local magistrate at PLA Hisar, Bungalow number 781, where the magistrate recorded the girls’ statement at 2:30 a.m. Once the statement was recorded, the officer left the girls outside the magistrate’s house, reportedly during a heavy downpour.

The police have since arrested the five accused named by the girls. They are:  (i) Mr. Lalit Panghal, (ii) Mr. Sumit Panghal, (iii) Mr. Dharnwir Panghal, (iv) Mr. Sandip Panghal, all residents of Bhagana village, and (v) Mr. Parmal Panghal, resident of Kugand, Bawani Kheda village. All the accused are from Hisar district. The girls have insisted that the five accused committed the said crime, one in which the village headman Rakesh and his uncle Virendra conspired. The police, however, have not cited Rakesh and Virendra as accused.

The victims’ family insist that the omission by the police, to include the name of Rakesh and Virendra, is due to the influence of the dominant caste (Jat) to which the 5 accused, and Rakesh and Virendra, belong. Further, according to the victim’s family, the attempts being made to pressure the girls and the family into silence is due to an ongoing feud between the dalits and the Jats in Bhagana village. The family also allege that the police are not investigating the case promptly and adequately. They fear that, in the end, all the accused will be acquitted.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
The AHRC has learned that the said rape was a premeditated crime, one that was meticulously planned and executed by the five accused, in which Rakesh and his uncle Virendra were co-conspirators. Reportedly, dalits in Hisar, and those in Bhagana village in particular, have been protesting against forced eviction of dalits from Bhagana village. On 21 May 2012, dalits from the village had marched to the national capital, New Delhi, to demand the union government’s intervention, in order that the Government of Haryana would stop denying land allotment to the dalits.

The AHRC has learned that the incumbent government in Haryana, as well as the dominant castes in the state, to which Rakesh and the accused belong, have been trying to silence the dalit movement with threat and intimidation. The victims’ family allege that the rape is an act of revenge and intimidation.

The victims’ families are now holding a protest in New Delhi demanding an immediate and impartial investigation in the case. Civil society movements have not yet recognised their struggle. At the moment, the dalit families are isolated.

An act of rape upon the member of a Scheduled Caste or the Scheduled Tribe community by a member of any other community, constitutes, not only an offence of rape, punishable under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, but is also a non-bailable offence under section 3 (1) (xi) of The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1980 (SC&ST Act).

In this case, however, the police have failed to register a case under the SC&ST Act.

The benefit of registering a case under this special Act is that it mandates that an officer not below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police will investigate the crime, that the trial will be held in a special court constituted in each district under the Act, and that the prosecution will be undertaken by a special public prosecutor.

These provisions are made to ensure adequate attention to detail concerning crimes committed against dalits by members of non-dalit communities during investigation and trial. In India, however, the local police, often under undue influence of dominant communities, or due to utter disregard, fail to invoke the provisions of the special law while registering crimes committed against dalits. This case is but one example.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to authorities mentioned below, expressing your concern in the case. The crime must be investigated promptly and the accused brought to trial without delay. It is equally important to investigate the conspiracy, if any, behind the crime, and to also try those responsible for it.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, calling for an immediate intervention in the case.
To support this appeal, please click here                        

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ………..

INDIA: Rape and silencing of four dalit girls in Haryana must be investigated

Name of victim: Four dalit girls, of Bhagana village, Hisar district; the complainants in Crime 299/2014, dated 25 March 2014, of Sadar Police Station, Hisar district.

Name of the alleged perpetrators:
1) Mr. Lalit Panghal, resident of Bhagana village, Hisar district, Haryana
2) Mr. Sumit Panghal, resident of Bhagana village, Hisar district, Haryana
3) Mr. Dharnwir Panghal, resident of Bhagana village, Hisar district, Haryana
4) Mr. Sandip Panghal, resident of Bhagana village, Hisar district, Haryana
5) Mr. Rakesh, village headman, Bhagana village
6) Mr. Virendra, uncle of headman, resident of Bhagana village
7) Mr. Parmal Panghal, resident of Kugand, Bawani Kheda village, Hisar district

Date of incident: 23 March, at about 8 p.m.
Place of incident: Bhagana village, Hisar district, Haryana

I am writing to express my concern regarding the case involving alleged rape of four dalit girls of Bhagana village in Hisar district of Haryana state. The details of the case reported by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are as follows:

The victims in the case are four dalit girls. On 23 March, at about 8 p.m., when the girls were out fetching water, five men kidnapped them. The five accused, who arrived in a car, forced the girls into the vehicle, and reportedly drugged and raped them. The girls were then dumped at Bhatinda Railway Station, about 170 kms away.

The victims’ fathers had reported to the village head, Mr. Rakesh, on 24 March morning that his children were missing. Rakesh informed the victims’ father that he and his uncle were waiting for the girls’ father to approach them and seek help. The victims’ father sought Rakesh’s help to lodge a complaint, which Rakesh initially refused.

When the girls’ fathers said that if Rakesh was not willing to help they would approach the local police themselves to file a missing persons’ complaint, Rakesh agreed to help. Rakesh, then, to the surprise of the fathers said that he knew where the girls were. He said that the girls were at Bhatinda Railway Station, and agreed to accompany them to pick up their daughters from the station.

Immediately, the victims’ families, along with Rakesh and his uncle Virendra, went to the railway station. There, as informed by Rakesh, wer the four girls. The girls were tormented and disoriented. On the way back, Rakesh threatened the girls not to lodge a complaint or speak to the police about what had happened to them.

The girls and their family refused to succumb to the pressure and decided to lodge a complaint. On 25 March, at about 10 a.m., the girls along with their family members arrived at the Hisar General Hospital for a medical examination. They had earlier approached the local police through the office of the Superintendent of Police, Hisar, Ms. Manisha Chaudhury. Unfortunately, the hospital authorities ignored them. As late as 11:30 p.m., the doctor at the hospital had only examined one of the four victims. By the time the examination of all the girls were completed it was 1:30 a.m., 26 March. The victims’ families allege that the designated police officer, instead of helping the girls, contributed to the delay, and also threatened the girls from proceeding with the case.

After the medical examination the police officer took the girls to the residence of the local magistrate at PLA Hisar, Bungalow number 781, where the magistrate recorded the girls’ statement at 2:30 a.m. Once the statement was recorded, the officer left the girls outside the magistrate’s house, reportedly in the midst of a heavy downpour.

The police have since arrested the five accused, named by the girls. They are:  (i) Mr. Panghal, (ii) Mr. Sumit Panghal, (iii) Mr. Dharnwir Panghal, (iv) Mr. Sandip Panghal, all residents of Bhagana village, and (v) Mr. Parmal Panghal, resident of Kugand, Bawani Kheda, village. All the accused are from Hisar district.

The girls have insisted that the five accused committed the crime, in which the village head Mr. Rakesh and his uncle Mr. Virendra are co-conspirators. However, the police have not cite the Rakesh and Virendra as accused in the crime.

The victims’ family insist that the omission of the names of Rakesh and his uncle Virendra by the police is due to the influence of the dominant caste (Jats). All the accused, including Rakesh, are Jats. And their attempts to silence the victims and their families are part of an ongoing feud between the dalits and the Jats in Bhagana village. The family also allege that the police is not investigating the case promptly and adequately, and that they fear all the accused will be acquitted in the end.

I am informed that according to the information received by the AHRC, the rape was a premeditated crime, one meticulously planned and executed by the five accused, in which Rakesh and his uncle Virendra co-conspired.

Dalits in Bhagana had been protesting against a forced eviction from Bhagana village by the Jats. On 21 May 2012, the dalits from the village had marched to the national capital, New Delhi, to demand the union government’s intervention, to stop the Government of Haryana from denying land allotment to dalits.

It has been reported that the incumbent government in Haryana, as well as the dominant castes in the state, to which Rakesh and the accused belong, have been trying to silence the dalit movement with threat and intimidation. The victims’ families allege that the rape is an act of revenge and intimidation.

The victims’ family is now holding a protest in front of the district administration’s office at Hisar district headquarters demanding immediate and impartial investigation in the case. Civil society has not quite recognised their struggle and, at the moment, they are isolated.

An act of rape upon the member of a Scheduled Caste or the Scheduled Tribe community by a member of any other community, constitutes, not only an offence of rape, punishable under section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, but is also a non-bailable offence under section 3 (1) (xi) of The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1980 (SC&ST Act). In this case, however, the police has failed to register a case under the SC&ST Act.

The benefit of registering a case under this special Act is that it mandates an officer, not below the rank of the Deputy Superintendent of Police, will investigate the crime, that the trial must be held in a special court constituted under the Act in each district, and that the prosecution will be undertaken by a special public prosecutor.

These provisions have been made to ensure adequate attention to detail concerning crimes committed against the dalits by members of non-dalit communities during investigation and trial. In India, however, the local police, often under undue influence of the dominant communities, or due to utter disregard, fail to invoke the provisions of this special law while registering crimes committed against the dalits.

This case is but one example.

I therefore request your immediate intervention in this case to ensure the following:

1. An impartial and prompt investigation into the incidents of kidnap, rape, and intimidation;

2. That the case, registered as Crime 299/2014, dated 25 March 2014, of Sadar Police Station, Hisar district, be amended to incorporate an offence punishable under section 3 (1) xi of The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1980;

3. That the role, played by Rakesh, the village headman of Bhagana village, and his uncle Mr. Virendra, be investigated, and if they they are found to have conspired with the five chief accused, the FIR be amended to include their names as accused;

4. The state government of Haryana pay an interim compensation, and provide psychological counselling to the victims;

5. That the victims are provided with adequate medical care to ensure that they have not suffered any serious injuries or contacted any sexually transmittable disease as a result of rape;

6. The allegation that the rape was a premeditated act to ensure social exclusion of dalits in Bhagana village be investigated and if the allegation were to be found true, all the perpetrators involved in the planning as well must be booked and tried under the SC&ST Act;

7. That the possible dereliction of duty of the doctor at Hisar General Hospital be investigated and appropriate actions taken;

8. That the allegation that the Superintendent of Police, Ms. Manisha Chaudhury threatened the victims be separately investigated and if proven the officer be charged for an offence punishable under the SC&ST Act;

9. That the victims and their family be provided adequate protection until the trial is completed.

I look forward to your kind action.

Yours sincerely,

———————————————–
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Bhupinder Singh Hooda
Chief Minister
Government of Haryana
4th Floor, Haryana Civil Secretariat
Chandigarh
INDIA
Fax: +91 172 2740596
Email: [email protected]

2. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul
Chief Justice
Punjab & Haryana High Court
Chandigarh
INDIA
Fax: + 91 172 2740055
Email: [email protected]

3. Ms. Sushila Sharma
Chairperson
Commission for Women
Bays No. 39-40, CADA Bhawan/4,PKL
Chandigarh
INDIA
Fax: +91 172 2560225
Email: [email protected]

4. Shri S. C Choudhari
Chief Secretary
4th Floor,
Haryana Civil Secretariat,
Sector-1, Chandigarh.
Fax: 91- 172- 2740317 Email: [email protected]

5. Shri P. L. Punia
Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes
Floor 5, Lok Nayak Bhavan
Khan Market
New Delhi-110003
INDIA
Fax:  91-11-24632298
Email: [email protected]

6.  Ms. Mamta Sharma
Chairperson, National Commission for Women
4, Deen Dayal Upadhayaya Marg
New Delhi-110 002
INDIA
Fax: 91-11-23236154
E-mail: [email protected]

7. Justice Sh. Vijender Jain
Haryana Human Rights Commission
Plot No- 1, Nirman Sadan, Sector 33 A,
Chandigarh.
Fax: +91-172-2600567
Email: [email protected]

Thank you.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission ([email protected])

 

 

  • Rajesh Kumar

    Stop perpetuating falsehood…
    This is a simple case of these girls falling in love with their boyfriends. They ran away from home. Two girls had consensual sex with two boys and the very next day the damilies brought them home from Bhatinda railway station with help from village sarpanch. Five poor boys have been arrested for falling in love with dalit girls and are languishing in jail. Greed of the girls’ parents and political ambition of some politicians who are into dalit politics is behind this non-existant crime. Have some sense of proportion please…