Two cases of Rape

Woman panch stripped for being raped in MP
YOGESH VAJPEYI

BETUL, JUNE 9: What could I have done?'' asks Madani (not her real name), a woman panch of Boregaon village in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh. Raped repeatedly by a young member of the village's affluent OBC caste of Kunabis last week, she found harsher punishment waiting for her when she returned to her village and lodged a complaint against the rapist. With her hands tied behind her back and a garland of shoes strung around her neck, Madani was stripped and paraded through the streets of her village by the members of her own community for ``getting herself raped'' and bringing a stigma on the family.

The outrage was perpetrated in this village of Chicholi block just three days after Chief Minister Digvijay Singh's visit to Chicholi on May 29 when he described the positive results of his government's efforts to empower the weaker sections and women and accused ``outsiders'' of stirring up trouble by inciting the poor tribals.

The Chicholi police first tried to hush up the case but were finally forced to register one against the alleged rapist, identified as Basudeva Kunabi, and arrest him on the insistence of local social activists. However, those who publicly humiliated and tortured the rape victim were allowed to gloat over the efficacy of their ``rustic justice'' till Betul Collector Pankaj Rag belatedly decided to intervene and ordered SDM Madhukar Agneya to probe the allegations.

Seven members of Madani's Gond tribe -- including her husband, Dassoo, and her brother, Sayaboo -- were arrested by the police near the Chicholi bus-stand on Thursday night, district police chief P S Falnikar said. However, they were released immediately ``because their crime was bailable''.

Madani's tale of woe -- which is confirmed by the statements of the sarpanch and others interrogated by the SDM's staff -- began on May 26 when Vasudeva lured her out of her village, Itiya-Bitiya, to nearby Kheda village and allegedly raped her all night in the travellers' waiting room. She was whisked away to Paratwada village in Maharashtra, adjoining Betul district, the next day and raped there too.

When Kadami complained to the police after escaping from the clutches of her tormentor, they were reluctant to believe her at the beginning. However, they agreed to register a case under Section 376 of the IPC on the intervention of some local activists.

Kadami's worst fears came true when she reached her village Itiya- Bitiya on May 26 and told her husband and her family what had happened to her. Instead of sympathising with her, they refused to let her enter the house.

Written statements obtained by the SDM's staff confirm that she was beaten up by her husband and family in front of the villagers. She was then stripped by the villagers, her hands tied behind her back by her husband and a garland of shoes put around her neck by her brother, Sayaboo. The villagers then dragged her to the rapists' village Boregaon -- beating her all the way -- to present her before the village sarpanch for a public trial.

``She allowed herself to be sullied by going with another man and we wanted to punish her according to the custom of our community,'' Madani's brother is reported to have told the policemen. ``We wanted to make an example of her so that no other woman in the community would dare to do this again,'' Asha Ram, a Gond tribal who participated prominently in the woman's public trial, said, justifying her punishment.

Police officials of Betul find themselves somewhat helpless against this venomous display of antipathy against the rape victim demonstrated by her own kith and kin. ``It's not a crime committed by one individual against another only. It's a crime which demonstrates how sick our social system is,'' said one of them on the condition of anonymity.

Copyright 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


NCW to intervene in Biswas rape case, Lalita
Agencies/Ranchi

The National Commission for Women may intervene in the Champa Biswas rape case of Bihar and also ensure the safe return of tribal girl Lalita Oraon from France.

Commission member Anusuiya Uike when apprised of the two cases here said she would initiate necessary steps.

Champa Biswas, wife of a civil servant in Bihar, had alleged that she was repeatedly raped by a few politicians and bureaucrats and sought justice from the court. The case came into light an year ago.

A tribal girl, Lalita Oraon, who was employed as a domestic help in Paris escaped from the clutches of her alleged tormentors and is reportedly in the custody of the French police. Her safe return to India is being demanded by her family members here.

Ms Uike said she would enquire about the two cases and recommend necessary action soon after reaching Delhi.


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