Patna: After battling for life for nearly 10 days, a 23-year-old girl, who was undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Patna after being set ablaze for opposing attempt to rape, succumbed to her injuries on the night of December 16. The victim’s death triggered immediate protests demanding punishment for the accused within 24 hours.
Hundreds of protesters, mostly women and girl students, have been staging protests by blocking roads, burning tyres and shouting slogans after the girl succumbed to her injuries in Apollo Burn Hospital. Their protest disrupted road traffic in front of the hospital in Agamkuan for hours. The protesters had also blocked the local railway line, but were later persuaded by the police to clear the road. The protesters demanded Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to visit the protest site to find out the ground reality and understand the pain and anger over increasing crimes against women in the state.
Woman activist Nivedita Shakil said, “Nitish Kumar should stop his tall talks about women empowerment. First he should visit the protest site outside the hospital, talk to protesters to realise how difficult life has become for women in the state. There is no security and safety for women in Bihar. They are living under several fears from rape, gang rape, being burnt alive to molestation and stalking. We will be forced to block the roads and trains if chief minister does not take crimes against women seriously.”
Another woman activist Kanchan Bala said that women have become soft targets in recent days. She added, “Crimes against women continue in Bihar as the dual power of the NDA government (BJP and JD-U) has failed to take control. Never before were women as unsafe in the state as now. This becomes clear if one looks at the incidents of one after another rape to incidents of being burnt alive. This has scared and frightened us.” Both Nivedita and Kanchan have demanded security for the family members of the victim as they were threatened by the relatives of the accused.
Also read: Bihar: Minor Gang Rape Victim's Head Tonsured, Paraded by Panchayat as Punishment
The victim’s parents told NewsClick, “Her last words were demanding justice. It was her dying statement.” They said that even though their daughter has passed away, they will fight for justice to fulfill her last words.
A close relative of the victim alleged that the family members’ request to the principal secretary of health department, Sanjay Kumar, to shift her to a super speciality hospital in Delhi from Patna was ignored. The victim was being treated in Patna at government expenses after her family members refused to admit her to the government-owned Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) due to lack of facilities for treatment of burn injuries.
According to police, the victim was set ablaze by two accused in Nazirpur village under Ahiyapur police station in Muzaffarpur district on December 7 after she resisted their bid to rape her. The accused Raja Rai and Mukesh Kumar poured kerosene oil and tried to burn her alive when she was alone in her house.
With nearly 93% burn injuries, the accused had reportedly first admitted her to a private nursing home for treatment. But soon her family members had shifted her in critical condition to the government-owned SKMCH in Muzaffarpur town. After her condition deteriorated, the victim was admitted to the Apollo Burn Hospital in Patna on December 10, where she was being treated till she passed away on the night of December 16.
The main accused, Raja Rai, who is the son of a powerful land broker was arrested and another accused Mukesh Kumar had surrendered in the local court.
Bihar state women commission chairman Dilmani Mishra had blamed the negligence of Ahiyapur police station officer in-charge and recommended the concerned district police officer to take action against him.
Ironically, this is not the first such incident in recent days. A dalit girl was shot and seriously injured on Tuesday morning (December 17), two days after she resisted a gang rape attempt by four youths in a village in Rohtas district. The critically injured girl was admitted to a government hospital there. According to district police, on Sunday, four youths were arrested for alleged attempt to gang rape the dalit girl when she was on her way to a nearby field for open defecation. But on Monday, the girl’s house was set ablaze by unknown people.
Also read: Former Inmate of Infamous Muzaffarpur Shelter Home Gangraped in Bihar
A 19-year-old pregnant girl, who was allegedly set ablaze by her boyfriend in West Champaran district, als died on December 10 on the way to PMCH. The teenager was set ablaze by her boyfriend. Later the accused was arrested.
Again, last week a college girl was gang raped in Patna that triggered a violent protest by college students. Following this, the police lathi charged and used water cannon to disperse protestors consecutively for two days.
Meena Tiwari, general secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association said, “In the last two weeks, a series of gang rapes have been reported from Muzaffarpur, Gaya, Kaimur, Patna and Banka districts. These incidents are enough to show how safe women are. We will continue to fight against the growing number of crimes against women in Bihar.”
Just a year ago, the Muzaffarpur shelter home rape case hit national headlines after a social audit report prepared by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences went public. Following this, the Bihar Social Welfare Department had filed a complaint with the police. The shelter home was run by Brajesh Thakur’s NGO. After hue and cry by the Opposition in Bihar, Thakur was arrested and the Bihar Social Welfare Minister, Manju Verma, was forced to resign owing to reports alleging close links of her husband with Thakur.