Bhairi Akbarpur (Hisar), Apr 28
Rape cases have nearly doubled in Haryana in the first three months of the year, according to government figures. Till March 31, 214 rape cases were reported as against 121 in the same period last year. Exactly a week ago, a family of five consumed poison in Bheri Akbarpur village, 50 km from Hisar, allegedly tormented by the police over the whereabouts of their elder daughter, who is missing after being raped last year, and on account of poverty.
An eerie silence prevails in the one-room dilapidated house where Mohan (all names changed to protect identity), his wife Sunita, their 13-year-old daughter Sandhya and sons Amit (11) and Rajiv (9) consumed celphos in the early hours of Monday. Mohan is the lone survivor and is recuperating in PGIMS, Rohtak.
Mohan’s eldest daughter, all of 15, was allegedly kidnapped and raped for two days by a villager, Rohtash, on May 15, 2012. He was arrested on May 17 and has been on trial for rape and abduction. On July 6, 2012, the victim disappeared. Mohal alleged that not only would the police keep pressing him to locate her, but the family had been suffering humiliation at the hands of the villagers as well.
While the suicide by the family has shaken the conscience of people across the state, those living around Mohan’s house seemed indifferent to the tragedy. “We had no interaction with the family,” says Ram Kumar, Mohan’s immediate neighbour. Mohan, a Dalit, had bought this house in an area of upper caste Jats after selling his old house some time back.
Ram Kumar says Mohan would usually leave in the morning for neighbouring Uklana town about 1.5 km from the village with his loading rickshaw, which he used to rent out. “His wife used to work as and when she got work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme. The three children used to go to school. The family seldom interacted with others in the village,” he adds.
Inquiries reveal that the family had been living in isolation ever since Mohan’s 15-year-old daughter eloped twice, was raped and then disappeared within two months of her recovery last July. In fact, Mohan had sold off his house in the Dalit Basti at the south end of the village and purchased a rundown house in the north end where upper caste Jats and others lived to escape taunts from his community members.
“We tried to counsel him and advised him to marry off his daughter after we heard of her first elopement. But he did not listen to us and, instead, shifted to a new neighbourhood,” say Mohan’s uncles Kanshi Ram and Dayanand amid receiving mourners.
“Mohan went into a shell after his daughter disappeared and did not discuss his problems with anyone,” says Dayanand. “We did not know he was under immense police pressure to produce his missing daughter. They wanted to produce her in a Hisar court on April 30 to record her statement. We came to know about this only after the family consumed poison.”
The day Mohan and his family consumed poison, the SHO of Uklana police station is alleged to have told Mohan to find his daughter and warned him of dire consequences if he failed to do so.
“Ladki ko dhoond ke la nahi to tujhe ulta taang doonga (find the girl or I will hang you),” he is alleged to have said. The SHO has since been sent on leave by the SP, though the allegation has been denied by the police.
“My nephew did not know his daughter’s whereabouts. How could he have produced him before the SHO?” asks Kanshi Ram.
Villagers also say the family’s financial condition was bad and Mohan had sold his rickshaw some days back. Mohan told mediapersons from the hospital that his children had not eaten in two days. He said other members of his family chose to end their lives with him rather than lead a “hopeless life”.
Unable to cope with police pressure, fed up with his poverty and with no support system to bank upon, Mohan appears to have taken the extreme step.
The Head Teacher of the Government Primary School in the village remembers 11-year-old Amit and nine-year-old Rajiv as good students, but sensitive by nature. “Both Amit and Rajiv were extremely good in studies and very docile and submissive. Children often quarrel and sometimes hit each other, but these boys would come to me teary-eyed if a classmate said anything,” says said Mohinder Singh. The girl Sandhya, who studied in the adjoining middle school, is also described as a quiet student, who did not have many friends in class.
Ironically, the children’s last journey was also quite silent, as very few villagers turned up at the cremation or to mourn their death.
Victims of circumstances
- The family sold off its house in the Dalit Basti and purchased a rundown house where upper caste Jats and others lived to escape taunts from community members after its minor girl was raped
- The day the family consumed poison, Uklana SHO is alleged to have told the girl’s father to find her and warned him of dire consequences if he failed to do so
- Villagers say the family’s financial condition was bad and the rickshaw-puller had sold off his rickshaw some days back
- The family had not eaten in two days at the time of the suicide and the rape victim’s father said other members chose to end their lives with him rather than lead a “hopeless life”
Mohan went into a shell after his daughter disappeared and did not discuss his problems with anyone. We did not know he was under immense police pressure to produce his missing daughter. They wanted to produce her in a Hisar court on April 30 to record her statement. We came to know about this only after the family consumed poison..
— Dayanand, Mohan’s uncle
- Haryana- Dalits flee Haryana village after upper caste attacks (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Inter-caste marriages taking toll in jatland #Vaw (kractivist.wordpress.com)