Bhopal: In the week following the death of a dalit girl, who had been brutally gang-raped by upper caste men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district, Madhya Pradesh reported six cases of gang-rape within a week. What is more, all the victims in the state are from the dalit community.
The incidents of gang-rape have been reported from Khargone, Narsingpur, Seoni, Bhopal, Rewa and Hoshangabad districts. Out of six, two of the victims – from Seoni and Khargone – are minors. In five cases, the accused belong to the dominant caste while in one case, the accused is still unidentified. The police have registered cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, and POCSO Act in minor’s cases.
According to the latest National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) report 2019, the state had recorded the highest number of rape and molestation cases against dalit women in the country. In 2019 itself, the state reported 214 cases of rape and 114 cases of molestation against dalit women.
The data also reveals that total 1,116 rapes and 437 molestation cases reported against dalits in the country in 2019. While MP fared the worst in both the categories, Maharashtra and Haryana are on second and third position in terms of reported rape cases. While, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra occupied second and third positions in molestation cases against dalits.
“Contrary to Uttar Pradesh Police, the state police is acting promptly in such cases and arrests are being made,” said a senior official of the Madhya Pradesh Police.
On October 2, a spine-chilling incident was reported from Narsinghpur district, 223-km away from the state capital. A 32-year-old dalit woman died by suicide after police denied to register the FIR of gang-rape even after three days of the incident. After the matter came to light, the police have now registered a rape case against three people, but little too late. They have also suspended and booked two cops who denied to register the FIR. All the accused have been arrested.
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In Hoshangabad district, which is 80-km away from the state capital, a 30-year-old dalit woman was kidnapped and gang-raped by seven men last month, however, it was reported only on October 5, police said on Monday (October 5). Out of seven, four of those involved in the crime have been arrested and police have launched a hunt to find the other accused. Hoshangabad Police on Monday said that the woman was kidnapped from her house and taken to Silvani area where she was raped by these men.
In Rewa, the police registered a rape case against six men for allegedly assaulting and raping a 36-year-old dalit widow. According to the police report, the accused dropped her off at the Sanjay Gandhi Medical College on October 1 after raping her in an unconscious state. The incident happened on the night of September 30, but was reported on October 5 after her son and her brother filed a complaint with the Rewa SP demanding strict action against the accused. The victim has reported severe injuries and is still in hospital. Police have booked all the accused and till date four has been arrested.
In another incident on October 3 in Bhopa, a 21-year-old dalit girl was dragged and raped inside an under construction building for hours by a man at Bairagarh locality. Police have booked three people who helped the accused and arrested all of them under the relevant sections of the IPC. Despite the media reports, the police, however, claimed that this was not a gang-rape, but a rape.
An incident of gang-rape came to light on September 30 from north-western district of Khargone. A 16-year-old dalit girl was ragged from home while she was sleeping in her hutment by three unidentified men and was gang-raped. Even though police have registered an FIR against the accused, they have been unable to trace anyone, even after a week. The district police has also announced a Rs 30,000 reward for revealing accused identity.
Again on October 3, an incident of gang-rape reported from the north-eastern district of Seoni. A minor dalit girl was abducted and raped by two men of the dominant caste. The accused reportedly kidnapped her when she was on her way to market and raped her.
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When contacted, Additional Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh, Upendra Jain said that this is just a co-incidence that such cases are coming to light when the Hathras case has stormed the country. He refuted the claim of any pattern which may have emerged after the Hathras gang-rape incident.
“In rape cases, the state police is acting very promptly and strict actions are being taken against the accused irrespective to their caste. Police is conducting unbiased inquiries in all the cases,” ADGP Jain said.
Referring to the Narsingpur gang-rape, where the victim killed herself because the police denied to lodge an FIR, the ADGP said, "We have taken strict and prompt action against those police officials who denied registering FIR of the victim and also booked them under relevant charges."