On 29th March Delta Meghwal, a 17 year old Dalit girl, was found dead under suspicious conditions in the water tank of her hostel at the Jain Adarsh Teacher Training Institute for Girls in Nokha, Bikaner. She was studying BSTC to become a school teacher. Delta belonged to a village called Gadra Road in Barmer district of Rajasthan. Her body was taken by the police in a municipal garbage/dead animals carrying vehicle (tractor) without video-graphing it.
According to the FIR filed by her parents, on the evening of 28th, at 8 pm, Delta called her father and told him that their Warden Priya Shukla had sent her to the PT Instructor Vijendra Singhâ€™s room, with the excuse of cleaning the hostel. There she was raped by Vijendra Kumar Singh, the PT teacher. In an attempt to cover up the incident, the institute took a written apology from both her and the PT Instructor with a statement that this happened with mutual consent. The usual strategy of victim blaming was used in the most brutal manner against the 17 year old minor girl.
Only after her family and community members protested outside the mortuary for three days demanding action against the perpetrators did the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police come to see the family. The police arrested Vijendra Kumar Singh, the PT teacher on Wednesday.
SEVERAL QUESTIONS REMAIN UNANSWERED
– Why did the college administration not follow due process and take immediate action against Vijendra Kumar Singh and Priya Shukla, since the girl is legally a minor?
– Why were Deltaâ€™s parents not informed?
– Why did the college force a letter that the abuse was a consensual relationship?
– Why did the police use a garbage tractor to take the body?
– Why was a minor girl sent to the room of a male PT teacher?
– Why was a Dalit girl student sent to clean the hostel in the first place?
WHY THIS SILENCE ON DELTA’S RAPE AND MURDER?
The issue of Deltaâ€™s horrid rape murder was only reported by Dalit-bahujan blogs and the casteist-brahminical mainstream media did not cover until late. Deltaâ€™s identity being a Dalit girl was not enough to represent her as a â€˜nationâ€™s daughterâ€™. A rape victim becomes the nationâ€™s â€œdaughterâ€ when she is devoid of an identity, but the moment her caste identity is revealed, she is not even discussed in the mainstream discourse on rape. There by excluding the most effected victims of rape i.e. women from the marginalized communities and military occupied zones, the upper caste groups reinstate the caste Hindu domination.
In Indian caste-ridden society, caste system is enforced through Dalit womenâ€™s bodies, and rape is a form of caste atrocity. The upper-caste women have often been instrumental and hand in glove with the upper-caste men in the Rape and Murder of Dalit women. In Khairlanji, the dominant caste women were instrumental in dragging Priyanka Bhotmange and Surekha Bhotmange out of their home on the day when they were brutally raped and murdered. Similarly in the rape and murder of Delta Meghwal, the Warden Priyanka Shukla is instrumental in sending Delta to the Rapist Vijendra Singhâ€™s room.
The orchestrated silence by the HRD Minister Smriti Irani, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and the National Commission for Women only proves that Dalit womenâ€™s lives do not matter, their rapes are not rapes, and in fact by being silent they are being instrumental in promoting violence against Adivasi/Dalit/Bahujan women.
Deltaâ€™s incident reflects the Brahminical institutional structures that have always subjugated the talents and lives of students from Adivasi/tribal, Dalit, Bahujan and Muslim communities across the country. Many such cases of institutional murder have been witnessed the most recent being Rohith Vemula. Deltaâ€™s painting was awarded by the state of Rajasthan and got featured in an art magazine published by the Rajasthan Secretariat.
WE DEMAND STRICT ACTION AGAINST THE CULPRITS
– Criminal action to be taken against the principal of the college, Eashwar Chand Vaid and warden Priya Shukla who are complicit in the rape and murder of Delta and subsequent covering up of the case.
– The PT teacher Vijendra Singh should be booked under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for rape and murder of Delta. Police officers who removed the body with a garbage tractor without video-graphing it, to be suspended from service immediately.
– A Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST) to be filed against the college administration, principal Eashwar Chand Vaid, warden Priya Shukla, PT master Vijendra Singh ( in addition to other criminal cases of rape, murder and criminal conspiracy) and the police who were responsible for removing Deltaâ€™s body.
– An independent, high level enquiry to be done into the case and the legal proceedings to happen through fast track court to ensure speedy justice.
– The post-mortem report states that her death was not caused by drowning in the water tank and that they did not find water in her lungs, which was completely contradicting the previous statements given by the institution and hence CBI probe should to be ordered.
We Demand â€œAnnihilation of Casteâ€, not â€œAnnihilation of Livesâ€ by Caste.
BREAK THE SILENCE
Flames of ResistanceÂ (FOR) is a platform for women from marginalised communities in JNU to come together and raise their issues and concerns which are ignored in the mainstream discourse.