February 21st, 2016
News Source: Indian Express | Image Source: newindianexpress
The Logical Indian community is well aware that one has to be sensitive enough to use the term rape “survivor”, but when the concerned person succumbs to the psychological trauma due to rape and commits suicide then, unfortunately, we have no option but to call her a “victim”.
She was a victim of a social system where a woman who is raped is not believed and subjected to slut shaming, victim of policemen who refuse to lodge an FIR on her request, and a judicial system which “counsels” her to “compromise” or give up the case since there would be no justice. Indeed, she was a victim of the callous attitude towards rape survivors in our country which has hardly changed even after over four years of the gruesome Nirbhaya gangrape.
Who was she?
She was another daughter of India, a student of B.Sc who hanged herself to death from a ceiling fan in her home one day prior to her next hearing in the court scheduled on 2nd February, 2014. Her suicide note written in Hindi was found stating that she was resorting to this extreme step because she hoped that after that nobody would call her a prostitute. She also apologized to her parents who are still in a state of disbelief as they knew that she wanted to become a lawyer after finishing her graduation, so that she could help other women subjected to the trauma of rape. She was the fourth child of a family of seven siblings, living in a two-room house. Her father had retired as the guard of an engineering college in Nagpur.
What had happened to her?
In June 2014, the victim had visited Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital in Bhilai for some treatment on her face. “The doctor, Gautam Pandit, told her she had jaundice and kept her at the hospital for three days. He drugged her, and with constables Saurabh Bhakta and Chandra Prakash Pandey, raped her. Then for over six months, they threatened her, saying they had made a video, and even took money from her on two occasions,” says her brother.
Afraid about blemishing the family name, she kept it all to herself. In January 2015, she finally cracked up and revealed the incident to her family. When her brother went to the police station with her, the police was reluctant to lodge the FIR and even hit her. However, they did lodge the FIR and the three accused were arrested within a day.
That was the beginning of another trial for the two siblings – they started receiving threat calls, sometimes even from within the jail premises, warning them to either make a compromise outside the court or to withdraw the case altogether. Some goons threatened them even in their home. The prosecution lawyer had threatened that the family name would be smeared in the legal battle. The victim’s father claims, “She never reported this because she told her lawyer everything. We fear her lawyer too did not want to fight for her, and instead told her to give up the case.” In her suicide note, the victim states that even her lawyer, Kalpana Deshmukh, had informed her that the chances of winning the case were very slim. . “Whenever I go to court on the date I am called, the judge is not present in court,” she wrote at another place. In fact, even though they were present in the court on all the five days of hearing, they had been marked absent in the court records.
Current Status of Investigation
The mobile phones of the brother and the victim have been taken by the police for examination of the alleged threat calls. Rajesh Agarwal, ASP, Bhilai, assures, “We will reach a conclusion in the matter. If any further complaint is received, action will be taken on that as well. Everyone that has been named will be questioned, including the lawyers.” Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, is of the opinion that it was likely “something emotional was going on in the victim’s mind”.
Of course, something emotionally traumatic was going on in her mind, something which would very well go on in the mind of anyone who has been raped and denied justice for more than a year, someone who is called named by her neighbours without even proper investigation, just on hearse.
The Logical Indian community strongly condemns the manner in which the entire case was handled and the public attitude which blames the victim rather than the perpetrators, and urges speedy settlement of the case (although after her suicide no amount of time can be “soon” enough).