On the 16th April, 2014, Chhindwara Bhaskar (local supplement of the newspaper Dainik Bhaskar) reported the incident of kidnapping and rape of a mute and handicapped minor girl in Chhindwara. Various other local newspapers such as Patrika and Nai Duniya also covered the issue and that is how the issue came into light. However, even after one and half months of the incident, neither had there been any progress in the case, nor had any help reached the survivor. Finally it was decided that an intervention is needed in this case. The case raises many questions about the delay in action by the police and the administration, about the complexity of the issue involving a minor with multiple disabilities and lack of supporting environment for a rape survivor.
The fact finding team consisted of the following members:
1) Daya Bai- social and human rights activist
2) Ms Aradhana Bhargav- senior lawyer and social activist based in Chhindwara
3) Ms Kranti and Ms Jyoti- members of Jan Sahas, Dewas, an NGO fighting against atrocities against women
4) Ms Kanika Sharma- social worker from TISS, Mumbai
- The Incident
This incident involves atrocity against a 15 year old girl who is mute and has paralysis in one hand since birth. She belongs to an adivasi family, which migrated from a near-by village to Chhindwara 10 years ago and now both parents and two elder brothers work as daily wage labourers. The family lives in a rented kuchcha house in Koldhana area.
According to the mother of the survivor, at around 5 pm on the 13thof April, 2014, the girl had gone to the old Nagpur Naka (the near-by market) with 10 Rs to buy a packet of biscuits. She went missing after that. While searching for her, the family was informed that she was last spotted at a temple, which is around 500 meters from their house, and within 50 meters from the old Nagpur naka.
On 14thApril at around 9 pm, the girl came back home on her own. She was in a distraught state, her clothes were different and she was continuously crying. She then communicated to her mother that a man in a motorbike (red in colour) had taken her to a house where four men, including him, “did wrong to her”. It was her mother who realized that she was raped.
- Findings on the actions taken so far
Late in the night of 14th, the family went to the police station to lodge the FIR. The procedures took time and the FIR was registered at around 4 am on 15th April 2014. Sections 363 and 376 of IPC were applied.
The FIR was lodged by the mother, who is not literate and therefore, the nature of the complaint was oral. It is important to note that in the FIR, in four places it has been pointed out that the girl is “mand-buddhi” (mentally “slow” or developmentally disabled). However, in our interactions with the girl, we found out that she understands and remembers everything and tells the same points about the incident each time. Therefore, we feel that this over-stressing on her being “mand-buddhi” and being “unable to tell much specifically” about the incident, has been done to weaken the case.
Problematic medical examination process
On the 15thof April, the girl underwent a medical examination. The report of the examination has not been given to the family and neither was it available to us. However, a news report published in ChhindwaraBhaskar, dated 18th April 2014 (see annexure 2), reported that in the medical report, the examiner has stated that girl is “sabhogkiaadi (habituated to sex)”.Furthermore, the SP told the Times of India journalist, on 4th June 2014, that in the medical report, it has been stated that there is ‘old tear in the hymen’. It is ethically, legally and scientifically wrong to state in the medical report of an examination of hymenal tears or habitiuation to sex. Additionally, the hymen can tear because of a variety of factors, including heavy work or exercise. A hymenal tear does not establish whether a girl has had sex or not. Therefore, going by these two points, we strongly suspect that not just in the report but also in the process of medical examination, medical protocols and guidelines have been flouted.
Delays in recording statements
The statements of the girl were recorded on 28thApril, two weeks after the FIR was registered. This caused a loss of crucial time and halted any possible progress in the case. However, in the meantime, it has been reported that the police tried to question the girl in the city Kotwali. The SP himself said that he met the girl in the Thana where she was “unable to tell anything”. The girl should have never been called, let alone questioned, in the police station as the law clearly states that minors and women must not be called to the police station for any enquiries.
Finally, when the experts came from Jabalpur, the statements were taken in front of the Magistrate. This happened in a closed room, where even the mother of the girl was not allowed. What happened behind the closed doors remains unclear to us but according to another news report on 29th April (see annexure 3), “the girl was unable to tell anything about the accused even in the court and therefore, no progress could be made in the case.”
- Points from the case diary
On 9th June, in the meeting with the Town Inspector (TI) who is currently the investigating officer, the case diary was shown to the team. Following points from the case diary confirm the aforementioned problems with actions taken by the police
1) In the medical report, it has been clearly stated that “two finger test” was performed on the girl. This test has been banned in India.
2) In the medical report, it has been written that the girl is habituated to sex.
3) There is also a certificate from the district medical board which states that the girl has 60% mental retardation. The mother is unaware of any such test being conduct on the daughter.
4) In the statements recorded in front of the magistrate and the experts on 28th April, the experts wrote that the girl said there was only one man who raped her. This again is a contradiction to the fact that the girl has clearly stated to us that she was raped by four men.
5) The police says that the rikshaw puller, Bablu Dole, in whose house the girl was raped and seen in the morning, has admitted that he dropped the girl on the evening of 14th in his rikshaw and therefore, he is the accused. However, the girl has clearly stated to us that she never sat on any rikshaw in the period of her kidnapping. She has also confirmed that Bablu, who is older than the other four accused, did not rape her.
- In-action by Police and administration
- No substantial progress in the case in more than one and half months
- No compensation and rehabilitation efforts for the rape survivor
- Mistreatment by the police, calling the girl “mad” and telling her mother to send her to mental asylum
- Blaming the victim and her family for being non-cooperative
- Interactions with survivor and her mother
The team interacted with girl twice on different days and she communicated the exact same things through her expressions, which were further communicated to us through her mother who was present both times.
Following are the important points that came out in the interactions:
1) The girl has a sharp memory. She remembers everything about the incident and when asked with patience and in a place and a manner she is comfortable with, she communicates everything.
2) The girl was taken on a red motor-cycle by a man who wore two rings in his hands.
3) He took her to Sukludhana area.
4) She clearly tells that she was raped by 4 men, pointing 4 fingers each time.
5) After the rape, she was given different clothes to wear in the morning. She was also told to take bath, which she did
6) She was dropped to the Bus Stand, near the tomb of KamliWaale Baba, by another accused in the motor-cycle.
7) She walked home from there, a distance of almost 4 kilometers, in a distraught condition.
- Meeting with SP
Between the two interactions with the girl, the members of the team also met the Superintendent of Police, Mr. P. Sharma and briefed about the case on 4th June, 2014. At first, he said that the girl was unable to tell anything but after we told him about our interaction with her, he made following assurances:
- Changing the Investigating officer
- Transferring the case to Women Cell
- Immediate arrest of the suspect, who is in fact the accused as per the girl
- Financial help/compensation to the girl as per the procedure
None of these assurances have been fulfilled in the last 5 days. There has been an arrest of Bablu Dole on 6th, however, he is not the accused and therefore, this is a fabrication of the case.
- Visit to the location of crime
The team then went with the girl and her mother to the place where she had been taken after kidnapping on the evening of 13th April 2014. The family had also taken the police to the location on 15th April but despite that, the police could not find out much about the accused whereas the team, which visited the spot after more than one and half months of the incident, found important leads related to the four accused. Following are the main points from the visit to location:
1) The girl was taken to the Sukludhana area of Chhindwara, which is within 100 meter of the Kundipura Police Station
2) She was first kept in the house of one of the accused, where she also saw the mother of the accused, who she identified during the visit. The mother of the accused, a woman who called herself Sudama, after seeing the team and the girl, quickly came out of the house.
3) She was then taken to a kucchha house, 30 meters from the house where she was kept earlier. This was the house of the uncle of the accused.
4) It was in the kuccha house that she was raped.
5) The kuchha house belongs to Bablu Dole who is a riksha-puller. He, however, was not one of the four accused.
6) Three women who live next to the house identified the girl and said that they saw her sitting alone outside the house in the morning of 14th April. One of them, realizing that something was wrong, asked the girl to go to the police station with her but the girl was too scared to do that. The women also saw her fetching water from the tap near the house and taking bath.
7) One of the women informed that unlawful activities keep happening in this house but no one raises any voice.
8) While we were investigating the location, suddenly the girl got very scared as she saw one of the accused peeping from the other house. Clearly, the girl indentifies all the accused. We had to stop the investigation there as she was visibly very scared and it was not safe to continue with the investigation
- Identities of the accused
After investigation of the location and identification of the two houses, the team took local help in finding out the identities of the four accused. Different sources revealed following names/identities of the accused, based on the facts collected and provided by the team:
1) Bhola Dole, son of Krishna Dole
2) Rinku Dole, son of Rameshwar Dole
3) Son of ASI/SI posted at the Kundipura police station
4) Son of the Patel from Chand
The team also got following information:
- The four accused were going for the Hanuman rally on the 13th when they saw the girl. They signaled her to come towards them and then kidnapped her.
- The red motor-cycle on which the girl was taken to Sukludhana is of the ASI/SI. He still rides it.
- The first two accused, Bhola Dole and Rinku Dole are nephews of Bablu Dole, in whose house the girl was raped.
- Demands: 1) Immediately initiate the procedure for identification of accused by the survivor and arrest them.2) Record the statements of the girl again in a sensitive manner. Ensure that she is comfortable while recording the statement or enquiring.3) Prepare a map of the location of the crime and record the statements of people living near the two houses4) Immediately file the charge-sheet against the four accused. It is a clear case of kidnapping and gang-rape of a minor.5) Ensure fast track trail of the case, so criminals are punished and justice is done to the girl.Regarding efforts for reparation and rehabilitation for the survivor:
- Medical help to the survivor
- Immediate and rightful monetary compensation
- Future security of the survivor. Efforts must be taken for her education.
For further details Contact: Advocate Aradhna Bhargav- 09425146991, Kanika Sharma – 07588480386, Daya Bai, Ms Kranti and Ms Jyoti