On Friday when the Unnao rape case was grabbing the nation’s attention, a Dalit woman had to commit suicide to get the media attention towards her gang rape in Muzaffarnagar. Her tragedy was not very different from other victims of sexual violence.
The fact that she was a dalit only ensured that the police did not take her case seriously at all. The dalit woman, a resident of Raipur village in Muzaffarnagar, was a worker in a brick klin. On Friday she hanged herself from the ceiling of her house after allegedly being sexually harassed by two men at Raipur village in the district. A suicide note was recovered from her room in which she claimed that she was raped by two men. In her suicide note she mentioned that she had complained to the local police but there was no action against the culprits. She said that repeated threats from the accused forced her to end her life.
Like the Unnao rape case, even with this rape victim, the police did not help her when she had gone along with her husband to Phugana police station to register her FIR. According to her husband Devichand instead of filing her complaint, police detained him and his son Yashwant. Devichand made serious accusations against the police.
“I accompanied my wife when she had gone to Phugana police station. I took my son as well along. But the police did not file the complaint and instead detained me and my son. When she started pleading to let us go, the police started asking for some kind of fee in lieu of letting us go. My wife would have been alive had the police taken some action against her tormentors. She did not tell me initially but later I got to know that she had gotten threats from the culprits,” he told Newsclick.
It was only after her suicide that the police took some action and suspended the sub-inspector Subhash Chand for not taking action on her complaint.
On Friday itself, another alleged gang-rape was reported from Shamli, not very far from Muzaffarnagar. A twenty three years old woman was allegedly gang-raped by a man and his two friends when she had gone to the field to cut grass at Brala villagge in Shamli. The Station House Officer Bhagwat Singh told NewsClick that a case has been registered against three people who were absconding. Singh said that the culprits had allegedly threatened the victim after allegedly raping her of dire consequences if she reported the matter to the police. He said that the victim has been sent for medical examination. She, like many other victims of sexual violence is waiting for justice to be done.
In another horrific instance, a six years old dalit girl was gang-raped and murdered by three men in Muradpur village of Kaushambi district on April 10. According to the Superintendent of Police Pradeep Gupta, the victim was kidnapped by two youths when she was playing outside her house. Both of them raped her and later strangulated her.
When BJP campaigned for Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections last year, it came up with slogans like mahila ke samman me, BJP maidan me (BJP will fight for women's respect). Party chief Amit Shah sold the idea of problematic proposal like that of anti-Romeo squad as part of saving women from harassment. After more than one year of Adityanath's rule, the narrative seems to have turned against women. On any given day there is no dearth of stories about crime against women, especially sexual crimes from Uttar Pradesh. Many of them get reported. Some don't.
According to UP government’s reply to a question by Samajwadi Party MLA Naheed Hasan, crime against women has gone up in every segment under the BJP regime in comparison with 2016-2017. In total there was an increase of 11208 cases of crime against women in Adityanth's rule, jumping up from 33728 cases in 2016-17 to 44936 in 2017-18, an increase of more than 30%.