Women's organisations in India on Thursday strongly condemned the brutal gang-rape and murder of a 50-year-old anganwadi worker allegedly by a mahant (temple priest) and his aids in Badaun, Uttar Pradesh, and demanded immediate arrest of the main accused.
The 50-year-old woman, who had gone to a temple on Sunday evening, was gang-raped and murdered allegedly by the three accused. While the priest, the main accused, is on the run, his two accomplices were arrested on Tuesday night after the post-mortem report confirmed rape. The police have said that the woman's leg and a rib bone were found to be fractured and there were injuries in her private parts.
“In a repeat of the callousness evidenced in the Hathras case, the police ignored the pleas of the family to lodge the FIR. They turned up only the next morning and after the post mortem revealed severe injuries including injuries in the private parts of the victim's body,” a joint statement by the women’s organisations said.
The FIR was only registered two days later following the autopsy confirming rape. Then, the two accomplices of the priest were arrested. The family of the victim has alleged police apathy to their complaint, which apparently led to the delay in registering the FIR.
The women’s organisations, including, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Pragatisheel Mahila Sanghatan (PMS), All India Mahila Sanskritik Sanghatan (AIMSS), and All India Agragami Mahila Samiti (AIAMS), demanded immediate apprehension of the absconding priest. They have also asked for protection for the victim’s family and action from the police and administration to ensure speedy justice for the victim.
Although the Station House Officer of Ughaiti police station has been suspended for laxity in the case, the women’s organisations have expressed doubt over the administration’s commitment to accountability. They said that in view of earlier such incidents, they suspect that there will be efforts to “sideline the rape and murder and to subvert justice to cover up the atrocious records” of the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government. “It is shameful that such horrendous crimes against women are being committed at a time when the UP government is preventing women by police force from holding peaceful demonstrations with their just demands for food and work,” they said.
The statement further said it was “doubly shameful” that while the current regime boasted of its religiosity, temples were becoming sites of crimes and “mahants are becoming perpetrators”. Earlier in 2018, the brutal gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl took place in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, where the main accused was also a temple priest.
They have also called upon all activists in different states to campaign strongly on the incident “to expose the dangers that women face under BJP regime.”
The UP government has now deployed a Special Task Force to trace the main accused in the case. The priest and his aides were booked under Sections 376-d (gang-rape) and 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code at Ughaiti police station of Badaun.