#India – Dalits stripped of Dignity #Caste #discrimination


Frontline  

WITH the imposing Puthur hillock surrounded by lush green sugarcane fields offering a picturesque backdrop, Vadugapatti in Usilampatti block in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu gives the impression that all is well there. But the humiliation inflicted on a 11-year-old Dalit boy on June 3 and the abuses hurled subsequently at his widowed mother by a caste Hindu youth have unmasked the moral pretensions of the tiny village in the heartland of the Piramalai Kallars.

In a place where footwear is considered a status symbol rather than protective gear, a Piramalai Kallar youth, P. Nilamaalai, forced the Dalit boy, P. Suresh (name changed), to carry his sandals on his head as punishment. His crime: wearing footwear in the caste-Hindu area!

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) tooksuo motu notice of the case and held an inquiry in the village on June 11. D. Venkatesan, Director of the NCSC (Tamil Nadu and Puducherry), who was accompanied by A. Iniyan, investigator, confirmed that the incident had taken place. Dubbing it a “heinous crime against a juvenile”, he said that persons guilty of the crime would have to face “serious legal consequences”.

Following a complaint lodged by the victim’s mother, P. Nagammal, a brick kiln worker, the Usilampatti Town police registered a first information report (FIR) on June 6 and arrested Nilamaalai, his brother P. Agni and their father, A. Pathivuraja. The police have registered cases against them under sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.Even 10 days after the incident, Suresh found it difficult to come to terms with the humiliation he had undergone. Narrating his ordeal, he said it occurred when he and two other boys were returning from the Government Kallar High School where he was studying in Standard VI.

All the three boys belonged to the Dalit colony and had gone to the school to find out about the rescheduled date of reopening after the summer vacation. Nilamaalai waylaid them near a tamarind tree. After allowing the other two Dalit boys, who were barefoot, to leave, he upbraided Suresh for violating the ban on Dalits walking on the streets in the upper-caste area with footwear on. Reprimanding him for his mother’s “failure” to teach him the “etiquette” he had to follow, Nilamaalai forced the boy to put his footwear on his head and paraded him up to a platform used to stage cultural events.

According to Nagammal, Suresh stomached the insult and did not say anything about it to her or to his other relatives. However, sensing her son’s abnormal behaviour, she coaxed him a couple of days later into revealing his agonising experience. She took up the issue with Nilamalai’s brother Agni on June 5. But Nilamaalai not only justified his abominable action but also hurled abuses at her and allegedly threatened to eliminate her if she dared to inform the police. Contrary to his belief that the Dalit woman would grin and bear the dishonour, she lodged a complaint with the police. Nagammal said the local police wanted to settle the issue through a “compromise” and she had to approach Dalit activists to ensure that justice was done in the case.

K. Theivammal, coordinator of the Usilai Vattara Dalit Kootamaippu, an organisation working for the rights of the oppressed communities in Usilampatti block, said the police registered an FIR after much dilly-dallying. Though the police arrested Nilamaalai’s brother and father on June 7 on charges of protecting the accused, Nilamaalai was absconding until he was nabbed on June 9. Posters were put up throughout Usilampatti town and in several villages in the area demanding, among other things, the arrest of the main accused.

According to Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan, who visited the village close on the heels of reports on the incident, cases had been booked under Section 294(b) (singing, reciting or uttering any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place) and Section 506(1) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 3(1)(x) and 3(1)(xiv) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Section 3(1)(x) of the Act deals with intentional insult or intimidation with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view and Section 3(1)(xiv) pertains to offences such as denying a member of an S.C. or an S.T. any customary right of passage to a place of public resort or obstructing such member so as to prevent the person from using or having access to a place of public resort which other members of the public or any section thereof have a right to use or have access to.

 

 

 

In denial 

Caste Hindus, however, dismissed the incident as an “aberration” in the otherwise cordial relations between the two communities. Vadugapatti panchayat president M. Thavam said both Dalits and Piramalai Kallars lived in harmony in the village. Though the incident was deplorable, it should not be blown out of proportion as it would harm the peaceful coexistence of the two communities, besides bringing disrepute to the village, he said.

The headmistress of the local school was also in denial. Nothing should be done to precipitate the issue, she cautioned. Of the 166 pupils in the school, which was established in 1921, 90 were Dalits and no discrimination was shown to them, she claimed.

However, Nagammal, who has not yet fully recovered from the shock, feels that the government should intervene immediately to ensure protection to her and her son. She wants the authorities concerned to shift her son to another school so that he can continue his studies without fear. Though the school reopened on June 10, the boy did not attend classes fearing reprisals from some persons belonging to the dominant community. She has also urged the government to allot a housing plot in a safer location so that she can live peacefully. Her demands have the backing of Dalit organisations, including the Usilai Vattara Dalit Kootamaippu.

The NCSC has urged the district administration to help the victim to find admission in a government school and hostel in Madurai town. The boy needs counselling and relief, the commission said.

Dalit residents of the village say the June 3 incident has brought to the fore various problems faced by them. According to Theivammal, different discriminatory practices prevailed in all the six villages—Vadugapatti, Ramanathapuram, V. Kallipatti, Kongupatti, Puthur and Vilarpatti—that come under Vadugapatti panchayat. Dalits describe the peace meeting held in the village by the Deputy Superintendent of Police and investigating officer on June 9 as a knee-jerk reaction by the authorities.

M. Jayakumar, Suresh’s maternal uncle, said the practice of insulting members of the oppressed community for wearing footwear in front of caste Hindus occurred every now and then. Only recently was a girl student of the local government school, M. Malarvizhi (name changed), beaten with a broomstick for walking with footwear on a street in the caste-Hindu area, he said.

K. Mangayarkarasi (name changed), a brick kiln worker, said her son was taken to task by caste Hindus for wearing footwear while crossing a street last month. Dalits are not even allowed to ride two-wheelers in caste-Hindu areas. There is no proper pathway to the burial ground used by them. According to some residents, non-Dalits had warned them also against complaining to visiting government officials and activists of human rights organisations about the discriminatory practices.

 

 

Stressing that the Vadugapatti episode should not be taken as an isolated one, M. Thangaraj, organiser of the Madurai district unit of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), listed the discriminatory practices: segregated dwelling units; separate burial grounds for Dalits; denial of access to places of worship, common meeting place, village squares or community halls; ban on the use of footwear in front of caste Hindus; and the two-tumbler system in tea shops. In many villages in Usilampatti block, B.R. Ambedkar’s picture was not to be found in government offices and schools, he added.

As in the case of several villages in the region, the Dalits of Vadugapatti are farmhands and have to depend on the dominant community for their livelihood. They have been working as manual labourers in brick kilns or as agricultural workers in land belonging to caste Hindus. In Vadugapatti village, there are around 220 Dalit families and 500-odd caste-Hindu families. With the monsoon playing truant in the past several years, Dalit youth have migrated to the northern States seeking jobs in snack-making or fast food units.

“As many as 120 brick kilns are located in Usilampatti and Chellampatti panchayat unions. They are owned by caste Hindus. Almost 90 per cent of the workers involved in brick-making are Dalits brought from the western and northern districts of Tamil Nadu. Most of them are treated as bonded labourers,” Thangaraj said.

The TNUEF is planning to launch an agitation shortly to ensure that Dalits in Vadugapatti walked on the thoroughfares in the village wearing footwear, he said. Thangaraj asked the authorities concerned to take stern action against those who practised untouchability in any form. Strong action from the government in one village would send a warning signal to the forces of oppression in the entire region, he opined.

Director of the NCSC Venkatesan said the villagers had been told that discriminatory practices against Dalits and various forms of untouchability not only were inhuman but were against the law of the land. Expressing concern at the escalating incidents of atrocities against Dalits, he said these would be taken up at the State-level review meeting of the NCSC slated for July.

Significantly, discrimination against certain communities insofar as wearing footwear has a long history in Tamil Nadu. The senior archaeologist C. Santhalingam said there was historical evidence to show that using footwear was treated as an exclusive right of certain groups in ancient Tamil land, though footwear might have been originally treated as something to protect the feet, particularly in tropical climatic conditions. A 12th-13th century A.D. stone inscription in the Kongu region speaks of a decision by the Kongu Chola administration to lift the ban on wearing footwear by Kammalars (artisans) and Idayars (cowherds), he said.

 

#India : Death in detention of Mr. Safiqul Haque and acts of intimidation against Family


 

Case IND 280613
Allegations of torture and ill-treatment/ Arbitrary detention/ Judicial harassment/ Death in detention/ No proper investigation/ Risk of impunity

The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in India/ West Bengal.

Brief description of the situation

The International Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a member of OMCT SOS-Torture Network, about acts of intimidation and judicial harassment against the family of Mr. Safiqul Haque, a 51 year-old man from Bilbari Village, after the family lodged a complaint alleging that Mr. Safiqul Haque had died in detention due to torture and lack of proper medical care. OMCT is particularly concerned about the arrest and alleged false charges brought against his son, Mr. Rafikul Alam, 22 year-old, and the lack of proper investigation into the death in detention of Mr. Safiqul Haque.

According to the information received, Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family has been continuously threatened by the Nabagram police after lodging a complaint in relation to the death in detention of Mr. Safiqul Haque (see background information hereunder). In a recent event, on 11 May 2013, at about 5:00 am, the Officer in charge of Nabagram Police Station, along with other 12 policemen, entered Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family house and arrested without any arrest warrant Mr. Rafikul Alam, son of Mr. Safiqul Haque, after the family refused to sign on blank papers. Mr. Rafikul Alam was illegally detained during two days. During his detention, he allegedly suffered verbal abuses, repeated threats and intimidation. He was also allegedly deprived of adequate food and proper sleep.

On 13 May 2013, Mr. Rafikul Alam was reportedly falsely charged in Nabagram Police Station Case no. 20/2013 under sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (armed with deadly weapon), 149 (member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty) and 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984. According to the same information, on 14 May 2013, Mr. Rafikul Alam’s mother lodged a written complaint to denounce the aforementioned events before the District Magistrate. To date, there has been reportedly no investigation carried out into the aforementioned events.

Background information

According to the same information received, on 7 December 2012 at about 5:00 pm, Mr. Safiqul Haque was praying at Bilbari Boro Mosque, in Bilbari Village, when he was apprehended, together with Mr. Ismail Seikh, Mr. Jarman Seikh and Mr. Anawar Hossan, by Superintendent of Police of Murshidabab district, Mr. Humayun Kabir, who came with about 500 police personnel. The police entered the mosque and started brutally assaulting Mr. Safiqul Haque and his acquaintances. Mr. Safiqul Haque, Mr. Ismail Seikh, Mr. Jarman Seikh and Mr. Anawar Hossan were reportedly tied and dragged by force to the police prison vans parked outside the mosque, where they were again beaten and verbally abused.

On 8 December 2012, Mr. Safiqul Haque’s wife reportedly received a phone call from an unknown person who informed her that her husband, together with Mr. Ismail Seikh and Mr. Jarman Seikh, had been brought to Lalbagh Court accused of murder. She went to Lalbagh Court where she found out that her husband and the two men were detained in the court lock up and that they had been tortured during the whole night by the police personnel who beat them with their boots and with wooden sticks. After rejection of their bail petition on 8 December 2012, Mr. Safiqul Haque, Mr. Ismail Seikh and Mr. Jarman Seikh were detained in Bhagwangola Police Station until 12 December 2012 when they were brought to the Additional Second Court Special Judge, Berhempur and implicated in the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS) case 1117/12. Mr. Safiqul Haque esd then moved to Bharampur Central Correctional Home where his family was not allowed to visit him. The police personnel allegedly tortured Mr. Safiqul Haque again during this detention causing him several injuries.

According to the same information, it was not till 7 January 2013 when Mr. Safiqul Haque was admitted to the Berhempur Sub-District Hospital to be treated from the injuries inflicted. Despite the advise of the doctor to move him to Kolkata Hospital for better treatment, the officials in charge did not do so. On 7 January 2013 Mr. Safiqul Haque reportedly died in Berhempur Sub-District Hospital without getting any proper treatment. The police did not inform Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family about his death. On 11 January 2013, Mr. Safiqul Haque’s wife lodged a complaint before the district Magistrate, in Murshidabad. On 14 February 2013 MASUM made a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission. However, to date, no action has been taken and there has been reportedly no investigation carried out into the aforementioned events. As for Mr. Ismail Seikh, Mr. Jarman Seikh and Mr. Anawar Hossan, they have been released on bail.

The International Secretariat of OMCT expresses its concern about the safety and physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family, particularly of his son, Mr. Rafikul Alam. OMCT is also gravely concerned about the circumstances surrounding the detention and death in detention of Mr. Safiqul Haque. OMCT urges the competent authorities to guarantee Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family physical and psychological integrity at all times, notably by immediately putting in place adequate protection measures for them, and by suspending the police personnel believed to be responsible for the allegations of torture and ill-treatment, pending an investigation.

OMCT recalls that the authorities have to fulfil their obligations under the Indian Constitution and under international human rights law to protect the right to life, the right not to be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the right to liberty and security, to consider seriously any allegations of ill-treatment and arbitrary arrest, and to undertake a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation in this regard, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them to trial and apply adequate sanctions. OMCT also recalls that victims must be ensured the right to an effective remedy for the human rights violations suffered as well as the right to full redress, including compensation and rehabilitation.

Action requested

Please write to the authorities in India urging them to:

1. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family, particularly of his son, Mr. Rafikul Alam;
2. Immediately put in place adequate protection measures for the family of Mr. Safiqul Haque;
3. Immediately put an end to acts of intimidation and judicial harassment against the family of Mr. Safiqul Haque;
4. Carry out a prompt, effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into the alleged acts of ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and alleged false charges against Mr. Rafikul Alam, Mr. Ismail Seikh and Mr. Jarman Seikh and into the death in custody of Mr. Safiqul Haque, the result of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible before a competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
5. Ensure that adequate, effective and prompt reparation including adequate compensation and rehabilitation is granted to Mr. Safiqul Haque’s family, Mr. Rafikul Alam, Mr. Ismail Seikh and Mr. Jarman Seikh;
6. Guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

  • Mr. Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, India. Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in;
  • Mr. Sushil Kumar Shinde, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001 India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979;
  • Justice Altamas Kabir, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in;
  • Justice K. G. Balkrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Fax: +91 11 2334 0016 / 2338 4863, Email: covdnhrc@nic.inionhrc@nic.in;
  • Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly, Chairperson, West Bengal Human Rights Commission, Bhabani Bhaban, Alipur, Kolkata -27. Fax +91 33 2479 9633 / 2479 7750, Email: wbhrc8@bsnl.in
  • Governor, West Bengal, Raj Bhaban, Kolkata – 62, Phone: +91 33-2479 7259, Fax: +91 33 2479 9633 / 2479 7750, Email: secy-gov-wb@nic.in
  • Miss Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, Government of West Bengal, Writers’ Buildings, BBD Bagh, Kolkata – 1, Fax – +91 33 22145480, Email: cm@wb.gov.insechome@wb.gov.in;
  • H.E. Mr. Dilip Sinha, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 906 86 86, Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India in your respective country.
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

Geneva, 28 June 2013

 

 

NWMI condemns insensitive media coverage of gang rape victim in West Bengal #Vaw


June 17, 2013

The Network of Women in Media, India, an independent forum of media professionals across the country, condemns the recent insensitive media representation of the 20-year-old college student at Barasat, West Bengal, who was recently gang-raped and violently murdered. In papers such as The Telegraph, Protidin and several other newspapers/channels, the victim’s name and her family’s have been freely used. More shockingly, Bangla newspaper Aajkaal  printed not only the victim’s name but also her photo on its front page.

The victim, a 20-year-old college girl, was gangraped and murdered on her way home from college on Friday, June 7, 2013 around 2 pm. Aajkaal printed her photo with related news on June 9.

Publishing her name is a clear violation of the Supreme Court’s order that the identity of a rape victim cannot be disclosed. Such disclosure is prohibited under Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as the Norms of Journalistic Conduct issued by the Press Council of India (2010). Under the IPC, revealing the identity of a rape victim is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine.

Section 228 (A to D) of the Indian Penal Code prohibits the disclosure not only of the victim’s name but also of facts that could lead to the identification of the victim, such as the victim’s place of residence, family or friends, university, or work details. This covers victims who are dead, minors and or have “unstable minds”. Even if the name is to be disclosed for welfare or legal reasons, this must be done in writing, only to the appropriate government authority, which does not include the media.

The reasoning for not disclosing the name of a rape victim is that such disclosure would invade the privacy of the victim and may render her open to further harassment and/or indignity. Revealing the identity of a rape victim could also make her (or her family in case she has not survived) vulnerable to pressure to drop the case.

In a context where the incidence of violence against women in West Bengal (and elsewhere) is rising, it is of grave concern that the media is flouting the law of the land as well as norms of ethics laid down by the PCI.

We demand:

1. Immediate pixellation and removal of all identifiers of the rape victim on online portals and the newspapers’ websites.
2. Issuance of a written apology in the newspapers, including their websites.
3. Institution of mechanisms for ensuring increased gender sensitivity while reporting cases of sexual violence. These measures could include, among others: on-the-job training, workshops, and evolving in-house norms for covering gender-based violence.

Sincerely,

Manjira Majumdar, Kolkata
Rajashri Dasgupta, Kolkata
Ranjita Biswas, Kolkata
Anju Munshi, Kolkata
Rina Mukherji, Kolkata
Ammu Joseph, Bangalore
Laxmi Murthy, Bangalore
Gita Aravamudan, Bangalore
Kavin Malar, Chennai
Kavitha Muralidharan, Chennai
Nithila Kanagasabai, Chennai
Jency Samuel, Chennai
R Akhileshwari, Hyderabad
Sandhya Srinivasan, Mumbai
Jyoti Punwani, Mumbai
Geeta Seshu, Mumbai
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai
Kalpana Sharma, Mumbai
Sandhya Taksale, Pune
Linda Chhakchhuak, Shillong

 

#India – Mumbai is 2nd-most crime-prone city, despite drop in cases in 2012 #Vaw


142.3% Rise In Robberies In City, 63.5% Spike In State

V Narayan TNN

Mumbai has gained the dubious distinction of being the secondmost crime-prone city in India, if one goes by the number of cases registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The data, recently released by the National Crime Records Bureau, shows that 30,508 cases were registered under the IPC in 2012, making Mumbai second only to Delhi, which had 47,982 cases.
In 2011, Mumbai actually saw more cases registered, 32,647. But the city had ranked third then behind Delhi and Kochi, which saw 47,212 and 34,658 cases, respectively.
The 6.5% drop in cases registered in Mumbai in 2012 can be mainly attributed to fewer cases filed for theft, burglary, dacoity, hurt, death by negligence, attempted murder, kidnap, abduction, cruelty by husband and relative, cheating, rioting and counterfeiting.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra continues to remain the second-most crime-prone state in the nation, even though it saw fewer cases registered in 2012. The figure dropped from 2.05 lakh in 2011 to 2.03 lakh. Madhya Pradesh, which has topped the chart since 2010, saw 2.2 lakh cases in 2012. Tamil Nadu was third with 2 lakh cases.
Several crimes saw a spike in Mumbai as well as Maharashtra, but none more so than robbery, which went up by a huge 142.3% in Mumbai and 63.5% in Maharashtra. There were 467 robberies in Mumbai in 2011, which went up to 1,131 the next year. In Maharashtra, the number rose from 4,249 to 6,949.
Other crimes that saw a rise in Mumbai included crimes against women (rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment), as reported by TOI on June 15, and also murder, culpable homicide, dowry deaths, breach of trust and arson. Maharashtra saw more crimes against women, dacoity, death by negligence, culpable homicide, attempted murder, cruelty by husband and relatives, cheating, breach of trust and riots.
Experts and police said higher awareness in Maharashtra leads to more crimes being reported and higher statistics. Deputy commissioner of police (Zone V) Dhananjay Kulkarni said a developed state sees more reporting of crime and better response by the police. Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh said, “In Maharashtra, there is less refusal to register a crime. That is why even though Maharashtra may be a more peaceful state than Bihar or UP, or even West Bengal, it would have more cases.” Joint commissioner of police (crime) Himanshu Roy echoed such views.
Both Kulkarni and Singh also cited rapid urbanization and population density in cities as causes of crime. “For semi-urban and rural India, cities have gradually come to signify prosperity, a better quality of life, higher income, a modern lifestyle and facilities. In their quest for the seemingly ideal life, people are increasingly migrating to cities, leading to an imbalance in supply and demand and basic resources,” Kulkarni said.

 

#India -13 Women activists from Maitree arrested for protesting in Kolkata #Vaw #WTFnews


Protests outside Mamata‘s house over report that claims Bengal is unsafest for women

Edited by Surabhi Malik (With Inputs from IANS) | Updated: June 13, 2013

Protests outside Mamata's house over report that claims Bengal is unsafest for women

KolkataWomen activists demonstrated outside Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s residence in Kolkata this morning to protest against a spate of rape cases in the state. They wanted to meet Ms Banerjee and submit a memorandum of demands. But an hour into the protests, police dispersed the women activists and arrested 13 of them.

The protesters, led by Maitree which is an umbrella organisation of women activists, also wanted to meet Mamata to seek her response to a report released by the National Bureau of Crime Records which says West Bengal has the maximum number of crimes against women in the country.

Unable to meet Mamata, the activists left an “open letter” for her asking her why she had not spoken about the two recent and brutal rape and murder cases in the state.

The two incidents happened in quick succession and left Kolkata shocked. Last Friday, at Kamdoni village about 25 km from Kolkata, a 20-year-old college girl was brutally raped and murdered by six men. Three days later, a 13-year-old school student met the same fate at Gede in Nadia district.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says Bengal recorded the highest number of crimes against women for the second year in a row in 2012. The state government however contested the data, claiming its disclaimers were not published.

According to NCRB, Bengal recorded 30,942 cases of crime against women in 2012 – of which 2,046 were rapes, 4,168 kidnapping, 593 dowry deaths and 19,865 cases of cruelty by husband or relatives.

But state Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee said rape cases had come down “considerably” in 2012. He attributed the hike in crimes against women to cases registered under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, related to cruelty towards a woman by her husband or his relatives.

In 2012, West Bengal recorded 2,046 cases of rape – lower only than Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In 2011, the state had recorded 29,133 cases of crime against women, 2,317 of these were rapes.

 

Jharkhand:Police officials accused of rape,murder of minor girls arrested #Vaw


 

Ushinor Majumdar,Tehelka

June 7, 2013

 

 

Amidst a clamour for police reforms while the nation focuses on rapes of minors in metro cities, two police officers have been accused of raping minors in two separate incidents in district of .

In one incident, which took place in Deoghar town on 25 May, two teenage daughters of a policeman were kidnapped, raped and murdered when they were on their way to a friend’s house. The bodies were found a day later. Police officer Sudhir Das, who was accused in the case, was arrested last week.

A police official told Tehelka that the post mortem report confirmed rape but the FIR did not contain a charge of rape but was later amended after public protests were held in Deoghar demanding a proper investigation while the victims’ father, also a policeman, said that the crime was committed by more than one person. Reportedly, he also fears the collusion of other policemen in destroying evidence. The FIR mentions destruction of evidence as a charge.

“The post mortem report revealed that the victim’s hymen was ruptured but did not confirm rape. Though no rape charge was made in the original chargesheet, we have now amended it adding rape under section 376 (b) of the Indian Penal Code after a direction from the inspector general of police,” Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Santhal Parganas, Dadanji Sharma told TEHELKA.

Sharma said that the public outrage and the resultant protests were understandable but the police were probing every conceivable angle. “The accused did not give up any information or tell us about any other persons he acted with or their whereabouts and we have arrested him on the basis of circumstantial evidence. We have started DNA profiling and are using other forensic tools in our investigations,” he added. The accused was remanded to police custody but after interrogation failed to adduce a statement or any fresh evidence, he has been remanded to judicial custody.

This incident has drawn the attention of political parties as well. CPM politburo member Brinda Karat protested along with Deogarh locals for several days. Former Jharkhand chief minister and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) chief Babulal Marandi has announced an indefinite fast from 9 June claiming police inaction.

In the other incident, which was reported a few days earlier, the victim knew the accused. Radhe Shyam Das, the Station House Officer (SHO) of Jarmundi police station in neighbouring Dumka district, surrendered after an FIR was lodged against him. In the FIR, he was accused of raping his minor domestic help.

A local said that the victim was about the age of four when she started working as a domestic help in the accused Das’ house. Das has allegedly been sexually abusing the minor victim since his wife passed away last year.

After the victim filed a complaint, Das went absconding and surrendered on 4 June after he was suspended from service and the Jharkhand Director General of Police (DGP) ordered swift action to apprehend him.
DIG Sharma said that in such cases the matters come to light only when the victim finds courage to complain since it happens in the confines of homes. “The accused police officer was suspended and he went absconding but later surrendered in court,” he added.

As per the National Crime Records Bureau report of 2011, 85 crimes against children were reported from Jharkhand. Of these, the rate of accused being chargesheeted was 97.3% in rape cases and 70.8% in cases of kidnapping. Of a total 784 rape cases reported from Jharkhand across all age groups, seven of the victims were in the age bracket of 10-14 years, same as that of the victims in these cases.

 

 

#India – Crucial lessons from decades of campaigns by women’s groups on Rape Law #Vaw #Sexualharassment


From Mathura to Bhanwari

RAPE

EPW- Vol – XLVIII No. 23, June 08, 2013 | Laxmi Murthy

The recent law on sexual harassment at the workplace rides on the back of decades of campaigns by women’s groups, starting with the rape law in the famous “Mathura case” to the guidelines on sexual harassment arising from the fight by Bhanwari Devi to punish the men who gangraped her for opposing child marriage. Unfortunately, lawmakers have failed to heed some of the crucial lessons that can be drawn from these struggles.

Laxmi Murthy (laxmim@himalmag.com) is consulting editor, Himal Southasian, Kathmandu, and director, Hri Institute for Southasian Research and Exchange.

Mathura, the 16-year-old adivasi girl whose gang-rape in police custody in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, triggered a nation-wide campaign against rape and demands for reform in criminal law, would be 56 years old this year. Bhanwari Devi, whose gang-rape by upper-caste men in Bhateri village of Rajasthan caused immense outrage and provided the impetus for a significant ruling against sexual harassment at the workplace, is also 56 years old.

Both these icons of the women’s movement might not have benefited directly from the campaigns to reform the law dealing with rape. Mathura had faded into obscurity, having got married and was getting on with her life, completely unaware that one of the pillars of Indian democracy – the Supreme Court of India – was being challenged on her behalf. In 1980, she was in her 20s when journalists from the national media descended on her village to interview the young woman whose case had been the driving force behind changes in the rape law. Not much was heard about her after that.

Yet, the “Mathura case”1 has gone down in the annals of feminist history as a watershed in challenging patriarchal notions of the judiciary. Though she had been raped in 1972, the case came into the public domain in 1979 when, for the first time ever, there was a questioning of the judgment of the apex court which overturned the Bombay High Court conviction of the policemen, on grounds that the complainant was “habituated to sex”. Moreover, the acquittal took into consideration the fact that Mathura had not “raised any alarm for help” and the “absence of any injuries or signs of struggle” on her body. Thus began a significant debate about “consent” and “submission”, and the notion that while consent involves submission, the converse is not necessarily true.

Pointing out inadequacies not only in the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, but in the judicial proceedings, four professors of law condemned the attitude of the judges in the Mathura case and questioned the “extraordinary decision sacrificing human rights in the Indian law and the Constitution”. The letter emphasised the social context, “the young victim’s low socio-economic status, lack of knowledge of legal rights and lack of access to legal services, and the fear complex which haunts the poor and the exploited in Indian police stations”. The letter raised fundamental questions: “Must illiterate, labouring, politically mute Mathuras of India be condemned to their pre-constitutional Indian fate?…Nothing short of protection of human rights and constitutionalism is at stake”.2

Placing the crime of rape firmly in the context of power relationships and gender inequality led to major reform in the law relating to rape in 1983, when the concept of “custodial” rape was introduced and the “burden of proof” in these cases was shifted on to the accused, provision for in camera trials was introduced and the law prohibited the disclosure of the identity of the victim, and punishments were made more stringent.

No Real Change

Yet, about 10 years after these amendments, the situation had not changed significantly. In 1992, Bhanwari Devi, asathin (village level worker) in the Women’s Development Programme in Rajasthan, was gang-raped by five upper-caste men for having the temerity to stop them from conducting child marriages. As a women’s rights activist, Bhanwari was aware of the procedural requirements to report a rape, and battled indifferent medical personnel in Jaipur, 55 km away, and biased policemen at every step. It was only 52 hours after the rape that the mandatory medical examination was conducted. The law took its own sluggish course. A charge sheet was filed a year later, and in 1995, a sessions court acquitted the men on the ground that “upper-caste men could not have raped a dalit woman”. The judiciary also could not believe that an uncle and nephew could rape the same woman. The impunity of the family and caste system remained intact.

By 2007, two of the accused had died while the appeal languished in the high court. Like Mathura, Bhanwari’s life goes on. However, she has been transformed into an icon for struggling women all over the country, receiving accolades and recognition as a symbol of resistance. While the rape case has not been won, Bhanwari’s spirit of resistance is a winner through all the tribulations of dealing with the gargantuan legal machinery that has come to represent that elusive concept called “justice”. At public meetings earlier this year in Mangalore and Bangalore to mark International Women’s Day, Bhanwari’s dynamism mesmerised the audience, igniting hope that women need not be victims alone. “Only justice can fill my belly, not awards,” she declared, forefronting what for the women’s movement has been one of the most difficult struggles – to reconcile societal notions of justice and reparation with individual trauma.

While the rape case drags on, Bhanwari’s experience provided the impetus for a radical change in jurisprudence in the law on sexual harassment. This new approach which firmly embedded the concept of sexual harassment in the framework of constitutional guarantees of rights rather than notions of propriety, modesty or honour, emerged from the judicial recognition of the precarious position of women workers, especially those in rural settings. In response to a writ petition filed by women’s groups, the highest court in the land issued the Vishaka Guidelines on Sexual Harassment at the Workplace in 1997. The Supreme Court held,

sexual harassment at the workplace is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the Right to Equality as well as Article 19 which guarantees the Right to Practise any Profession, trade or business. Since the right to work depends on the availability of a safe working environment, and the Right to Life (Article 21) means a life with dignity, the hazards posed by sexual harassment need to be removed for these rights to have any meaning.

Indeed, it is ironic that one of the most radical conceptions of ensuring the right of women workers to a safe working environment emerged out of the experience of a worker in the insecure work arrangement within the Women’s Development Programme of Rajasthan – one that the government has categorically denied is employment at all. This is particularly paradoxical, given that this programme was an outcome of the mobilisation of the late 1970s following the publication in 1975 of “Towards Equality, Report of the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI)”3authored by stalwarts in women’s studies like Phulrenu Guha, Lotika Sarkar and Vina Majumdar. Following on from this realisation, the Sixth Five-Year Plan (1980-85),4 which for the first time included a chapter on Women and Development stated,

A low rate of literacy and low economic status stress the need for greater attention to the economic advancement of women. Improvement in the socio-economic status of women would depend on a large extent on the social change in the value system, attitudes and social structure prevailing in the country.

It was to redress the situation that benefits of development in post-Independence India had not reached the vast majority of women in rural areas that the Mahila Vikas Abhikaran, or the Women’s Development Project (WDP) of Rajasthan was set up in 1984. According to the Policy Document of the Project,5

Most government schemes in which the involvement of the family in the process of development is essential, have grievously suffered due to women’s isolation. This is true not only of programmes of child welfare – in which women’s involvement is well-accepted – but also those of dairy development, social forestry, IRDP, agricultural production, etc. Indeed women’s development is one of the most critical challenges for Rajasthan.

Catalyst for Change

The WDP undoubtedly acted as a catalyst for change in rural Rajasthan, and its close association with the women’s movement in the early days contributed to a radical understanding of women’s empowerment, an understanding that began to have a life of its own. The village women’s meetings (jajams) evolved as unique forums to raise women’s issues, and women began breaking out of the shackles of traditional bondage and raised hitherto taboo subjects. They began to take part in the jati (caste) panchayat, protested against domestic and other forms of violence, demanded property and other rights, etc. The information that was shared about government schemes related to health, education, public distribution, wages and measurements in famine works, minimum wages, land records, property and other legal rights became a tool to challenge social and gender inequities. Women began to be aware of their rights and soon began to spot prevalent corrupt practices and together with the Sathins raised their voices against exploitation.

Initially they had the support of WDP, but with time, women’s power that had been unleashed at the grass roots began to upset prevailing hierarchies. This then led the state to start exercising its authority and control women’s assertions. There was growing discontent and the contradictions that were built into the programme from the very beginning began to effect cleavages that had no internal remedy. As the sathin became increasingly aware of the exploitative nature of her employment and the blatant inequalities in the salary structure within the hierarchy of WDP, the ironies of the situation surfaced.6

With the stated aim of empowering rural women through “communication of information, education and training and to enable them to recognise and improve their social and economic status”, the sathins’ job was to act as a bridge between the government and the masses, essentially, implementing and making any number of government schemes palatable. They worked, and continue to work, in precarious conditions, for a monthly pittance of Rs 1,600, which was raised from Rs 200 in the 1990s, after dogged campaigning by the Mahila Vikas Abhikaran Sathin Karamchari Sangh (the WDP Sathin Union). The poor wages and job insecurity were compounded by the challenges of the work itself.

The task of “consciousness raising” or preventing “social evils” like dowry, sex selection and child marriage can be extremely hazardous, especially at the village level with deeply entrenched feudal, caste and patriarchal structures. Bhanwari was raped while attempting to overturn exactly these sorts of practices, in her own community. It takes immense courage to enter the homes of neighbours, relatives and friends, and demand that they go against prevailing customs and stop child marriage or refuse to take dowry. Needless to say, there is no job security, no benefits, no welfare measures or even basic infrastructure like transport, and no support at all from their employers – the government – while doing this risky work. The unsafe working conditions of the majority of women workers in the unorganised sector is a larger and more complex question, but the legislation that emerged from Bhanwari Devi’s struggle for a safe working environment is one step towards ensuring the rights of women workers.

Sexual Harassment Law

The Sexual Harassment at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, which was signed into law on 22 April, is a significant civil remedy that recognises women’s right to a safe work environment free of sexual harassment. The onus is on the employer, who is responsible for ensuring such an environment and is to be held liable in case of any violations. While the public sector and private sector are covered, the law also includes other work places, including the sphere of paid domestic work. Additionally, the broad definition of “employee” encompasses a range of work situations including the informal/unorganised sector:

employee means a person employed at a workplace for any work on regular, temporary, ad hoc or daily wage basis either directly or through an agent, including a contractor, with, or without the knowledge of the principal employer, whether for remuneration or not, or working on a voluntary basis or otherwise, whether the terms of employment are express or implied and includes a co-worker, a contract worker, probationer, trainee, apprentice or called by any other such name.

The challenge, of course, is in the implementation. Quite apart from the debatable legality of conferring powers of a civil court on “Internal Complaints Committees”, the proper functioning of these bodies in the organised sector and “Local Complaints Committees” depends largely on their composition. The requirement of women members as well as members “familiar with issues related to sexual harassment” is crucial for a sensitive handling of cases, since sexual harassment at the workplace must be viewed within the framework of unequal power relations within the workplace, where women at lower rungs are more vulnerable.

Indeed, the major flaw of the new law is the provision to penalise women for making “false and malicious complaints”. It is this provision, Section 14, which succeeds in pulling the rug from under the feet of any woman who plucks up the courage to complain about sexual harassment. The Indian Penal Code (Section 211) already contains a provision to protect citizens from false complaints. Therefore, the inclusion of a specific clause such as this in a law primarily meant to ensure women’s rights must be viewed with disquiet. Despite years of complaints and submissions by women’s groups demanding that this provision be dropped, the new law includes it and thereby undercuts itself.

As the Report of the Justice Verma Committee7 observes,

We think that such a provision is a completely abusive provision and is intended to nullify the objective of the law. We think that these ‘red-rag’ provisions ought not to be permitted to be introduced and they show very little thought.

Despite such a strong recommendation, the Act contains this misogynist provision which can only serve to further victimise women. Over-compensating for “misuse”, even before the law can be used, is merely writing the script for its own nemesis.

Notes

Tuka Ram and Anr vs State of Maharashtra on 15 September 1978: 1979 AIR 185, 1979 SCR (1) 810.

2 Baxi U, Lotika Sarkar, Raghunath Kelkar and Vasudha Dhagamwar, “An Open Letter to the Chief Justice of India”, SCC Journal, Vol 4, p 17, 1979.

3 Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, 1975.

4 Planning Commission, Government of India 1981.

5 Policy Document, Women’s Development Project, Rajasthan, Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Government of Rajasthan, May 1984.

6 A Sawhny and Kiran Dubey, “Justice, the State and Sathins’ Struggle”, EPW, 36(16), 21 April 2001.

7 Report of the Committee on Amendments to Criminal Law, chaired by Justice J S Verma, with Justice Leila Seth and Gopal Subramaniam as members. The report was submitted on 23 January 2013.

 

 

#India – 17 year old abducted and Gang raped in Delhi #Vaw #Rape


RAPE

STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu . June 3, 2013

All three accused, in their 30s, have been arrested

A 17-year-old girl was allegedly abducted by three men in Nangloi while she was out for a stroll near her house on Saturday evening and gang-raped. All three accused, in their 30s, have been arrested in Delhi.

According to the police, the girl, who lives with her parents, had gone for a walk late on Saturday evening after dinner. As she reached an isolated stretch some distance away from her house, a white car came from behind and intercepted her.

The three men sitting inside asked her to get in. Upon her refusal, they allegedly dragged her inside and drove away. She tried to raise an alarm, but they covered her mouth.

“She was then taken to an empty warehouse in the area, where the three men took turns to rape her. Following this, the unconscious victim was dumped close to the spot from where she was abducted,” said a police officer.

When she regained consciousness, she returned home and narrated her ordeal to her parents. The family then approached the police and a case under Section 376 (D) of the Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences ct was registered.

Based on the description of the three accused and the vehicle, the police zeroed in on them and arrested them on Sunday. The car has also been seized.

Keywords: NangloiDelhi rapesexual assault

 

 

West Bengal – 5 year old girl raped, police shielding the accused #Vaw


 

15 May 2013

 

To

The Chairman

West Bengal Human Rights Commission

Bhabani Bhaban

Alipur

Kolkata – 27

 

Respected Sir,

 

I want to draw your kind attention on an incident of inhumane rape on a minor girl of only five years of age and subsequent inactions of police of Raninagar Police Station Our fact finding report provides the detail of the whole incident. It is revealed during the fact finding that the police of the said police station refused to register the complaint of the victim family in first instance and though arrested the alleged accused but after pressure from the influential  family of the accused; made him scot free, though, registered the complaint on later date, not arrested the accused till date. The accused boy is also a minor. The physical condition of the girl is grave.

 

The police personnel of Raninagar police station suggested the family of the victim girl for arranging early treatment of her while asked to register their verbal complaint as the family members was literate. The police personnel told the father of the minor child to make a written complaint against the accused so that they could take appropriate steps against the accused while the father of the minor victim asked the reasons regarding the release of the accused from their custody instead of producing him before the court. On 20.04.2013, Mr. Nabiul Islam lodged a written complaint on behalf of the minor girl before the Officer-In-Charge of Raninagar Police Station. But till date no appropriate actions have been taken by the police personnel of the said police station and the accused is at in large.

 

Hence we seek your urgent intervention regarding the following the matters:

·       The accused must be arrested immediately

·       The role of the police personnel of Raninagar Police Station regarding their negligence and acquiescence with the accused and his ‘influential’ family must be investigated by an independent agency, and subsequent charges must be framed against the involved police personnel in accordance to the law

·       The family of minor girl should be financially compensated for the medical expenses incurred

·       The family must be provided with security and safety during the trial.

 

Thanking you

Yours truly

 

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM & National Convener, PACTI

 

 

 

Name of the victim: – Ruma Khatun (name withheld), daughter of- Mr. Nabiul Islam, aged about 5 years, residing at Village- Ramnagar Natun Para, Post Office- Ramnagar DK, Police Station- Raninagar, District- Murshidabad.

 

Name of the perpetrators:- Mr. Diken Seikh, son of Mr. Sentu Seikh of Village- Ramnagar Natun Para, Post Office- Ramnagar DK, Police Station- Raninagar, District- Murshidabad and involved police personnel of Raninagar police station

 

Date and time of incident: – On 18.04.2013 at 2 pm.

 

Case Details: -

 

It is revealed during our fact finding that Mr. Nabiul Islam the father of the minor victim is living with his wife Ms. Layla Bibi along with the victim girl. Though Mr. Nabiul Islam is from Backward Class of Muslim Community, he and his family does not possess the certificate for the same. The family lives under abject poverty but their names have not been listed in Below Poverty Line (B.P.L) list either. The girl used to attend the local ICDS (Integral Child Development Scheme) Centre.

 

On 18.04.2013 at 2 pm, the girl was playing at adjacent mango orchard to her house with her friends. In the mean time the accused Mr. Diken Seikh, son of Mr. Sentu Seikh came to the place and made consecutive sexual gestures towards the girl while she was playing. The accused thereafter allured the girl by giving her a chocolate and took her to a nearby wheat field. The victim suddenly pushed down the minor girl on the field and jumped upon to her body. He abruptly tore open her clothes and forced upon her. The accused raped the minor with savaged cruelty. The minor girl made alarm while she was wreaked in severe pain and became senseless. The accused left the bleeding girl and fled from the scene. Few villagers suddenly came to the spot and informed Ms. Layla Bibi; the mother of the girl, about the incident. Ms. Layla Bibi came to the place and rushed her daughter to Godhonpara Primary Health Centre for medical treatment. But the doctor of that Primary Health Centre transferred the girl to Berhampore Matri Sadan Hospital for better treatment after examining her injuries received during the alleged rape.

 

On the very day of the incident, the parents of the victim went to Raninagar Police Station to lodge a complaint. But the police personnel of the said police station suggested them to get treated the girl at first, and then to make the complaint.  In the meantime the police arrested the accused on the basis of oral complaint by the parents took him to the police station, not to juvenile home, but later released him after his family interfered and “influenced” the police, instead of producing him before the court. Fact finding revealed that the maternal uncle of the accused is an influential political personality of the locality.

 

On 20.04.2013, Mr. Nabiul Islam lodged a written complaint over the incident, and police registered the complaint as an First Information Report (F.I.R.) and initiated a case against the accused vide Raninagar PS Case No. 272/2013 dated 20.04.2013 under section 376 (2) (f) of Indian Penal Code. But till now no appropriate actions have been taken by the police personnel of the said police station and the accused is still at large.

 

On 25.04.2013, the minor girl was discharged from Berhampore Matri Sadan Hospital after a heroic battle over the critical injuries which she received during a savage aggression upon her.

 

On 03.04.2013 at 8 pm, our fact finding team called to Mr. Ajay Pal; Sub Inspector of Raninagar police station and investigating officer of the case over telephone (03481-238038) and wanted to know the details of ongoing investigation and about the intended arrest of the accused. But the said IO of the case told that he did not know anything about the incident and abruptly disconnected the line.

Inline images 1

   VG was admitted in district hospital for injury at genital organ  

Inline images 2

 

Signature and acceptance of Mr. Ajay Pal, S.I.                                                                                        of Raninagar P.S. as Investigating Officer of the case 

 


Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

 

Woman Activist lands in jail for protesting lack of health facilities in tribal district five years ago


Author(s): Kundan Pandey
Date: May 18, 2013

People picket police stations; fellow activist claims case is baseless

Madhuri Krishnaswami had protested the treatment meted out by a health centre to a poor woman in labour. She has also exposed corruption under MGNREGAMadhuri Krishnaswami had protested the treatment meted out by a health centre to a poor woman in labour. She has also exposed corruption under MGNREGAMadhuri Krishnaswami, a health activist working with tribal communities in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh, was sent to jail on May 16 after she turned down the court’s suggestion to take bail. The court ordered her arrest in connection with a five-year-old case  registered in 2008 against Krishnaswami and others for their protests against the deficiencies in public healthcare facilities in the state.

People protesting against Krishnaswami's arrest People protesting against Krishnaswami’s arrest

Residents of the area have been on sit-in protest in front of six police stations in the district since Friday, demanding the activist’s immediate release.

Krishnaswami is the head of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), a non-profit that works on various matters, including healthcare for tribal people and marginalised communities. She has been sent to Khargone women’s jail on 14 days’ judicial remand.

Harassed for exposing corruption

Social activist Chinmay Mishra, who is closely associated with the case, in an interview over the phone, said Krishnaswami has played a significant role in exposing corruption worth several hundred crore in development schemes under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the district. The local administration is quite annoyed by her activities and had earlier ordered her externment. However, after protests by locals, the administration cancelled the order. This step (of arresting Krishnaswami) has been also taken for the same reason, adds Mishra.

The 2008 case was registered against Krishnaswami for protesting the treatment meted out to a pregnant woman in labour. Baniya Bai was refused admission by the compounder at the Menimata public health centre, Vijay Klumar. The woman delivered her baby on the road. Krishnaswami, who was in the area, intervened and sent the mother to hospital, and protested her ill-treatment.

Kumar later lodged a complaint against Krishnaswami, Baniya Bai’s husband Basant and other protesters. A case of rioting and assaulting a public servant under sections 353, 332, 147, 148 and 342 of the Indian Penal Code was registered against Krishnaswami and other protesters in 2008. Five years later, police filed a closure report (April 30, this year).

But the court refused to close the case and ordered notices to be served on the parties on May 2, says Mishra. The notice was not served on Krishnaswami, he adds. The activist appeared in court voluntarily to justify her actions. She was informed that the police had filed a closure report but had not stated clear reasons for the closure and so the report was rejected, adds Mishra.

The court suggested that Krishnaswami take bail, but she refused, quoting Mamatma Gandhi, “Jail is rightful place for independent persons of slave country.”  She demanded that the case be revoked and the doctor and compounder responsible for Baniya Bai’s ordeal be punished. Krishnaswami was subsequently placed under arrest on court’s order.

Mishra says that the case is baseless, and was filed with malafide intention.

Baniya Bai is also a party to the writ petition filed in the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, in which the status of maternal health services in the state was questioned. Twenty-nine maternal deaths have been recorded in a span of nine months at Barwani district hospital.