Rewari Gang Rape reveals Haryana’s Sorry State of Affairs for Girls

Written by Newsclick | Published on: September 20, 2018

NCRB data shows that Haryana, which is already struggling with a poor sex ratio of 914 girls per 1000 boys, tops the country in atrocities against women- be it dowry, rapes or domestic violence.

Rewari Gang Rape
The gruesome Rewari gang rape which took place on September 12, when a 19 year old girl was abducted by a group of around 12 men and allegedly gang-raped, has finally seen it’s first arrest on Sunday. Of the 3 prime suspects, Pankaj (an Army jawan), Nishu and Manish, who were mentioned in the FIR, Nishu Phogat has been arrested by a special investigation team (SIT) on Sunday while the other two key accused remain absconding. 

The 19 year-old victim, who was travelling from her house in Haryana’s Rewari District to Mahendergarh for her coaching classes was abducted around 8 a.m. from the Kanina bus stop and taken to Mahendergarh, where allegedly a gang of 12 men spiked some drinking water and forced her to drink it, after which the victim became unconscious and was reportedly raped for nearly eight hours.

The horrifying crime came to the limelight after the police authorities resisted to file an FIR while the victim was admitted to the Rewari Civil Hospital. According to sources, it was only after the victim’s condition started sinking, that one of the accused called the father of the woman asking him to pick his daughter up from the same Kanina bus stop where they had abducted her from, saying that “he had spotted her laying in an unconscious state”. 

In a detailed conversation with NewsClick, former General Secretary of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), Jagmati Sangwan, who launched a protest in Rewari on Sunday and also met the family of the victim, said that the price paid to attain education by girls in the state can be easily judged by the heinous crime which was committed against the 19 year-old who had  topped the CBSE board exams in Haryana and was awarded by the President himself. 

She added that a recent hunger strike by some 40 students of a small government school in Rewari is just one of the very many examples of how the students have to struggle to attain basic education in the state. The hunger strike, which was launched by the students to express their angst over the lack of teachers appointed in the school, continued for about 10 days and only ended after it was assured by the authorities that their demands would be met immediately. 

“Recently, we went to the same school and sadly even after the government’s assurance, there has been no implementation and the situation is the same. This becomes a serious cause of concern when there are no facilities in the schools, and girls have to travel to different places to attend school which have teachers and basic facilities and on top of that they encounter such gangs who feel free to commit such heinous crimes,” said Sangwan. 

This paints a seriously grim picture when inhuman incidents like these are met with even more casual and non-serious attitudes of the state authorities like that of the Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, who refuses to respond to any of the questions of the media and instead, loses his cool on the media and accuses the media of asking “wrong” kind of questions or that of the police authorities who tried to evade lodging an FIR stating that the victim’s parents were trying to file a “fake” complaint.

After meeting with the parents of the victim on Sunday, Sangwan told Newsclick, “There is a serious flaw in the attitude in which the police has handled the probe. Can you believe it that the SHO of the Mahila Thana refused to file an FIR and instead harassed the victims’ parents saying that they were coming up with such a false case only to waste everybody’s time? Then they tried to evade lodging an FIR saying, that the case didn’t fall under their jurisdiction and so on and so forth and only after 1 a.m. the following night, they registered an FIR.”

According to her, the case only gained momentum because of the media attention it received and no arrests were made till late Sunday evening, allowing the prime accused ample time to escape.

She further said that after visiting the crime scene and speaking to the women in the neighbourhood, it appears as though the case was planned with a lot of precision and careful thought. “The nearby farmers told me that the “pump” where the incident took place is adjacent to their farm and has become so unsafe that the women dare not even tread near that area. They say that it’s a hide-out for large gangs of men where they usually loiter the entire day, and indulge in drinking and even drugs. The entire manner in which this took place easily tells us that it was pre-planned,” said some of the women. 

Haryana, already struggling with a poor sex ratio of 914 girls per 1000 boys, has seen a rise in atrocities committed against women- be it dowry, rapes or domestic violence according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report 2016, which shows that Haryana tops the list under all these three pointers in the country. The constant struggle to improve women’s condition in the state is met with harsh reality when such incidents take place. Sangwan said that they have demanded from the authorities that the victim should be given free higher education, all the people accused should be arrested as soon as possible and should be dispensed with stringent punishment, so that it sets an example for all those who feel it’s their birthright to exploit girls.