On 9 January 2018, a 15-year-old Dalit girl from a village in Kurukshetra district, left home around 4 pm for her tuitions but never returned. Four days later, the dead body of the girl studying in Class X, was found in a water canal near Budha Khera village in Jind district, about 100 km from home. Her body was found mutilated, with injuries all over, including her face, neck, lips, private parts and chest.
A medical examination on her body indicates that she suffered Nirbhaya-like brutalities. The teenager was gang-raped, and her body was brutalised by her assailants, who inserted a foreign object into her private parts that caused massive internal injuries.
Dr S K Dhattarwal, head of Forensic Medicine at Rohtak’s Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, told reporters that as many as 19 injuries were found on her body during the post-mortem. “It doesn’t seem a case of rape by one person. She was probably sexually assaulted by more than two persons. They might have tried to thrust some object into her vagina also,” he said. “Her lungs were ruptured, suggesting someone might have sat on her chest,” Dr S K Dattarwal.
Dr Dattarwal also opined that her body parts were badly damaged, suggesting both unnatural act and gang rape. “The girl was subjected to immense brutality. We have asked the police to provide us the scene of the crime report and photographs of the spot for confirmations,” said Dr Dattarwal.
The girl was elder of two siblings, born to a tailor living in a village under Jhansa police station in Kurukshetra district. The girl’s family alleged negligence on the part of the local police. They told police that they suspected a Dalit boy from the village — a Class XII student of the same school where the girl studied — who has been missing since the same day the girl went missing. The victim and the boy went to the same teacher for tuitions.
Meanwhile, member of Haryana Women Commission Namrata Gaur, who met the aggrieved family members at Jhansa, told reporters there was an apprehension that the girl and the boy were abducted by unknown persons and subjected to abuse.
The police so far failed to trace either the boy or his family, which left the village a few days ago.
These Nirbhaya type of brutal rape and murder, especially on the Dalits in Haryana, are not new as the following cases in 2017 and 2018 establish.
Case 1: Murder of an 11-year-old Dalit girl in Panipat district
On 14 January 2018, semi-naked body of an 11-year-old Dalit girl was recovered from a deserted place on the outskirts of Urlana Kalan village of Panipat district. The girl, a student of Class 6, had gone missing on the previous evening when she went to throw the garbage.
Police arrested Pradeep Kumar (28) and Sagar (22), who are residents of the same village neighbours of the girl’s family. Panipat superintendent of police Rahul Sharma said that both have confessed to the crime. The accused had kidnapped the girl on the previous night and taken her to a deserted place, where they tried to rape her. When the girl tried to resist, they strangulated her with a scarf.
They have even reportedly admitted to trying to have sex with the corpse after murdering the girl.
Case 2: Rape & murder of a 6-year-old Dalit girl in Hisar district
On 10 December 2017, the body of a 6-year-old girl was recovered suburban town of Uklana in Haryana’s Hisar district. The victim went missing on the previous night was sexually abused and then brutally murdered. The girl, daughter of a Dalit couple, lived in a tent-like structure on the roadside with her family.
The unidentified murderer had inserted a wooden stick into her private part, and the child’s body parts were badly brutalized, and blood was spilled all over. The autopsy said that the stick had perforated her uterus and intestines.
On 11 January 2018, police arrested one person in connection with the rape and murder of the child.
Case 3: Gang-rape and harassment of a Dalit girl in Palwan village of Jind district
On 18 September 2017, an 18-year-old Dalit girl in Palwan village of Jind district in Haryana committed suicide by consuming pesticide because of continuous harassment by her rapists. The victim’s family alleged that three accused even pasted two handwritten posters in front of their house in which they mentioned objectionable remarks against the girl.
On 19 September 2017, the three accused — Rahul, Praveen and Kuldeep — had been arrested.
Case 4: Gang-rape, murder of a 23-year-old Dalit girl and mutilation of her body
On 11 May 2017, the decomposed and mutilated body of a 23-year-old Dalit woman, who went missing from Sonipat on 9 May and was gang-raped and brutally murdered, was found near the Industrial Model Township in Urban Estate, Rohtak in Haryana. Stray dogs had bitten off the face and lower portion of her body. An autopsy of the victim showed the bones of the woman’s skull were shattered into pieces and “some sharp-edged objects may have been inserted in her private parts.”
Police have arrested two persons, including the main accused Sumit, who is a Dalit.
Atrocities on Dalit girls and women in Haryana in 2016
The National Crimes Records Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, recorded a total of 639 cases of crimes/atrocities perpetrated upon the members of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), also known as Dalits, in Haryana in 2016. Around half of those i.e. 300 cases were committed against the Dalit women and girls as these included 102 cases of assault on SC women to outrage her modesty, 34 cases of assault on women, 33 cases of sexual harassment, 20 cases of assault or use of criminal force to women with intent to disrobe, 2 cases of voyeurism, 13 cases of stalking, 3 cases of insult to modesty of SC women, 22 cases of kidnapping and abduction of SC women to compel her for marriage, 70 cases of rape and 1 case of attempt to commit rape.
The 2016 NCRB Annual report stated that police disposed of a total of 650 cases of atrocities against SCs. Of these, it filed charge sheet in 476 cases, constituting charge-sheeting rate of 73.2% during the year. However, this figure sits very uneasily with the 12.9% of convictions secured in cases of atrocities against SCs during 2016. The huge difference between the charge-sheeting rate of 73.2% and 12.9% conviction rate only probes that police investigation in cases of atrocities against SCs are carried out superficially resulting in acquittal in 87.1% cases.
As per statistics of the NCRB, the number of cases of atrocities targeted towards the Dalit women in Haryana was at least 314 cases in 2015; 286 cases in 2014 and 131 cases of rapes in 2013.