JOINT STATEMENT BY DU STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS ON THE RAPE AND MURDER OF A 17 YEAR OLD DALIT GIRL IN RAJPURA GURHMANDI AND FIR AGAINST DETAINED FAMILY, STUDENT ACTIVISTS AND JOURNALIST, 17-10-2020
A 17 year old Dalit girl from Rajpura GurhMandi who was working as a domestic worker at a house in Model Town was found dead in the employer’s house on October 4th. The family has alleged rape and murder of the victim by the employer’s son and driver. The family has stated that the girl attempted speaking to her aunt just hours before her death only to be interrupted by the landlady. Later, the family was called and after a heated exchange with the police, were briefly allowed to see the body of the girl who was found hanging from the ceiling of the drivers room. The body was later whisked away without disclosure of any details about the whereabouts of the body. It was finally on October 8th, that the police allowed the family to briefly view the body after the postmortem and forcefully took it away and cremated it without the consent of the family and in the presence of approximately 300 police officials. This was done despite repeated requests by the family to let them take the body to their house for a short duration of time.
Family members of the victim, including women, were subjected to extreme physical torture by male police personnel, while in police custody for a duration of 8 hours. This had occurred when they reached the police station to enquire about the whereabouts of the body.
On the 16th of October, a protest was called outside Model Town Police Station demanding an immediate registration of FIR, fair and impartial investigation into the incident and action to be taken against police officials involved in the forceful cremation of the girl’s body and custodial torture of the family. At this protest gathering 10 people were detained, taken into police custody and brutally assaulted by the police personnel. The detainees include family members, student activists and a Caravan journalist. The Model Town police have now registered an FIR agianst the detained persons under the Epidemic Act.
The brazenness with which the Delhi police have attempted to cover up, destroy evidence and crush the protesting family into silence shows the extent of state impunity granted to the police and the accused, when they belong to the affluent class or upper caste sections. Ever since the Hathras gangrape case effected massive outrage across the country, several reports of sexual violence and murder of women, especially from Dalit and marginalized sections, have surfaced along with news of Hathras style forceful cremations, procedural lapses, destruction of evidence and cover-ups.
While we recognise that these are not isolated incidents and are located in the larger social reality shaped and defined by caste, patriarchy and class based relations and institutions, it is imperative to recognise the blatant state sanction involved in shielding perpetrators that only serves to embolden such caste based sexual violence.
We have seen in the case of Hathras rape victim how from the local police, medical examiners, district administration to government, the entire state apparatus was in cohorts to distort the statement of the victim and family violating all principles of fairness and justice. This model keeps getting replicated everyday along with rising cases of sexual violence and heavy repression of public outrage and protests by the heavy state machinery. We condemn the illegal cover up, destruction of evidence, forceful cremation and custodial violence and the attempt to criminalize peaceful protesters by the Model Town Police.
1) Immediate registration of FIR against the accused under relevant sections of IPC and SC ST Atrocities Act.
2) Independent and impartial investigation to be carried out into the case.
3) Immediate action to be taken against police personnel involved in committing procedural lapses and forceful cremation of the victim’s body.
4) Action to be taken against police personnel who were involved in the custodial violence of the family members, student activists and a journalist.
5) Withdraw the FIR filed against family members, students and journalist for peacefully protesting.
Issued by: BSCEM, Disha, DSU, KYS, PinjraTod, SFI