Is BJP-Ghaziabad police nexus trying to cover up minor’s rape incident?

Written by Sushmita | Published on: July 27, 2018
Activists on the ground fear that the local leadership of the area, especially one BJP MLA Lekhraj Mahaur, who stays in the next lane from where the girl was abducted, are doing everything in their power to brush the case under the carpet as “such a grave assault in their vicinity ‘tarnishes’ their ‘image’ and proves as an obstacle in their upcoming plans.” 

Minors Rape
 
Ghaziabad: On the morning of July 25, newspapers flashed the headline, “Man abducts 5-year-old girl from her house in Ghaziabad, rapes her in isolated field.” Reportedly, a 21-year-old man abducted a five-year-old child at around 1.30 am when she was sleeping outside her house in Vijaynagar, Ghaziabad with her grandmother, took her to an isolated field nearby and raped her. After raping her, he dumped her in the nearby field.
 
Under public pressure, the police arrested the accused. However, activists on the ground fear that the local leadership of the area, especially one BJP MLA Lekhraj Mahaur, who stays in the next lane from where the girl was abducted, are doing everything in their power to brush the case under the carpet as “such a grave assault in their vicinity ‘tarnishes’ their ‘image’ and proves as an obstacle in their upcoming plans.” 
 
Section 376 of IPC and Sections 3 and 4 under the POCSO Act, 2012 were lodged against the accused.
 
 Assault and ensuing trauma
The child’s father, who is a painter, said, “The accused probably gagged her so that she could not shout. Her mother woke up and found that she had been missing. We launched a search but could not locate her anywhere,” He further suggested that it was the proactive search of the locals in the area because of which they were able to locate the girl. He added, “Finally, the locals decided to look in the bushes where she was lying in an unconscious state and the accused was seen escaping from the spot” Reportedly, when the accused was caught by the residents, he was beaten up and police was called.

Child Rape
 
The child who was in critical condition at the time of incident, was taken to the MMG hospital at around 4 am in Ghaziabad district. However, activists alleged that the hospital staff expressed inability in being able treat the child and referred her to GTB hospital in Delhi. She could only be taken to GTB at 10 am on July 25. Shvaita Kaul of Jagrook Nagrik Manch, a local organization working in the area, expressed her dismay that for a city as large as Ghaziabad with a population of more than 30 lakhs, one “didn’t have a hospital good enough for such emergency situations!”
 
Citizens’ protest and response of police
When a group of local citizens, who gathered near the Vijaynagar police station (the jurisdiction under which the incident was reported) at around 3.30 pm on July 24, the police with the directions of a woman ASP Manisha Singh, started lathi charging the protesters and tried to disperse them.
 
After this, the people residing in the Mohalla decided to meet the DM with a list of demands on July 25.
 
The list of citizens’ demands
They want to ensure that the process of filing a chargesheet for the crime should be completed by Ghaziabad police within a span of 15 days. They also demand that a fast track court should take over the matter. The responsibility of the treatment should be taken up by the district administration. To secure the future of the girl child, the government of UP should ensure a fixed deposit of Rs. 10 lakh in her name. A written clarification on the poor condition of the hospital at MMG should be provided and that a committee should be constituted against the responsible CMO and other officers.

Child Rape
 
Terror unleashed by Ghaziabad police
However, reportedly, soon as the Ghaziabad police came to know that the people were planning to meet the DM, they reached the residence of one Sandeep Kumar of the organization Naujawan Bharat Sabha which was crucial in organizing the protests for the victim. Sandeep was leading the citizens’ group demanding justice for the child. As per Shvaita Kaul, the police tried to threaten Sandeep’s family to compel them to reveal his whereabouts. When they refused, the police raided their house early morning on July 25, around 4.30 am. First, they tried to pick up Sandeep’s father but later they picked up his brother and took him to the police station. Apparently, as per activists, the local minister Lekhraj’s younger brother and other small time politicians had assembled at the ‘thana’ and pressurized the police to lodge a ‘false case’ on Sandeep in a manner so that he could be incarcerated for a long time.
 
Late night visit to rape survivor’s house
On one hand, the police were trying to terrorize Sandeep’s family, on the other, they were reportedly ‘advising’ the family members of the child not to make a big deal of the issue and refrain from staging any protest. On the morning of July 25, when people started gathering in the Mohalla, the Ghaziabad police came in larger numbers in two gypsies and prevented the people from gathering. To the utter disbelief of people, accompanying the police officers were the goons of right-leaning Hindu Raksha Dal who made several rounds of the area in a Maruti van in a span of 2-2.5 hours. Activists such as Shvaita allege that it seems that the Ghaziabad police administration has decided not to allow the people to stand with the victim. The alleged current situation in the area is such that it has turned into a police camp.
 
When SabrangIndia team asked the SO, Vijay Nagar police station about the case, he said, “We are investigating and collecting evidence. We will file the chargesheet afterwards.” About the raids at Sandeep’s house, the SO completely denied that the police entered Sandeep's house. He added, “We were ‘wicketing’.” When we tried to ask him what he meant, he disconnected the phone call. Multiple attempts at reaching him after this proved futile. 
 
Image building and systemic failures 
Shvaita alleges that Lekhraj Mahaur was conscious of ‘undue’ media attention and has been trying his best not to come in the limelight. He even “got the lotus imprinted board removed from outside his house and scolded a local journalist who was trying to investigate the case.”
 
She asked, “Why did the MLA get the board removed if he didn’t have anything to hide or fear? Why are the local goons of Hindu Raksha Dal and other smaller right leaning groups moving around with the police?”
 
This case has revealed the many loopholes in our systems that prevent victims from taking the recourse of law. As per POCSO act, 2012, the victim should get immediate treatment. Due to lack of appropriate medical infrastructure at the MMG hospital, the victim girl had to suffer a significant delay in treatment and other medical aid. The time lost in taking her to the hospital was crucial for evidence gathering. Apart from this, the police aren’t supposed to create pressures of any kind on the family of the victim. In fact, it is their duty to provide an atmosphere where the victim can feel comfortable enough to be able to come and testify.
 
Moreover, the role of right-leaning groups in trying to cover up incidents of rape and sexual harassment has come to light before as well. In the case of Kathua, Hindu Ekta Manch defended the accused and took out processions in support of the accused.
 
Is the image of the local BJP MLA more important than justice for the five-year-old child? Or are we witnessing an era where the rise of Hindutva and the political sanction granted to them by the government at the centre, is bound to push principles of gender justice and child protection backwards?