Headman ‘sanctions’ retaliatory rape of Dalit girl, a village watches

Nakabandi went up to the mukhiya and demanded that he be allowed to rape the girl.

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | New Delhi | Updated: July 11, 2014 11:09 am
Nobody dared intervene, say villagers. Nobody dared intervene, say villagers.

It is  a rape that no one denies. The parents and neighbours of the 14-year-old Dalit girl raped in this hamlet on July 7 evening say their caste headman sanctioned the act and that everyone watched as she was dragged away. Accused and fellow Dalit Nakabandi Pasi’s wife agrees, justifying it as a revenge rape as the girl’s brother had allegedly tried to molest her.

The father of the girl and a neighbour add that Nakabandi met the caste headman Ghosal, also his father-in-law, and demanded that he be allowed to perpetrate “retaliatory rape”. While agreeing to the rape, Nakabandi’s wife denies her father had any knowledge of it.

“The girl’s brother came into my house at 12 in the  night on July 6 and tried to rape me. He forcefully tried to disrobe me and had a knife with him,” she said, adding that Nakabandi was sleeping outside at the time. “The brother ran away when I started screaming. I told my husband what he had done. The next day, when the girl was walking towards the village after collecting water, my husband caught hold of her, took her into the forest and raped her,” she said.

Ghosal’s wife Asha Devi also claims her husband was not in the hamlet on July 7 and had gone to attend a wedding in adjoining Phusro town. Nakabandi, Ghosal and the girl’s brother have since been arrested and sent to judicial custody.

While there is some disagreement over Ghosal’s presence at the time of the rape, most of the girl’s neighbours back her family’s version. They say Ghosal was sitting under a tamarind tree that stands between where the girl’s house is and where Nakabandi lives when Nakabandi approached him. “It was evening, so a lot of people were gathered around the tree.

Nakabandi went up to the mukhiya and demanded that he be allowed to rape the girl. The mukhiya gave him permission,” said Sulochana Devi, as the mukhiya’s supporters tried to shout her down.

“The whole village saw the girl being dragged to the spot, about half a kilometre from Nakabandi’s house. Nobody — including me — dared intervene as the mukhiya is a dangerous man,” said Sulochana. The girl’s mother reportedly wailed and pleaded with those under the tree as the girl was taken away. Afflicted with tuberculosis, she was unable to talk, but her husband did.

The rape victim’s father, who scavenges coal for a living, says he was in the coal field when, at about 4.30 pm, he heard what was happening. “My wife told me she was at home with my daughter when Nakabandi and his wife got there,” he said. “The wife caught hold of my daughter’s hair, dragged her, handed her to her husband and told him to seek revenge as my son had taken her honour.”

The rape victim is the fourth of his five children. An hour after she was taken away, at around 5 pm, her parents found her in the woods. They walked an-hour-and-a-half to reach the Gomia police station.

Shiwani Singh, the attending doctor at the Tenughat Sub-Division Hospital where the girl is admitted, said: “She was bleeding and in pain. We discharged her after first aid. She had to be readmitted on Wednesday night after the bleeding began again. She has been struggling to walk.”

The girl could be discharged on Saturday. Dalit Pasis make up the entire population of this hamlet of 100 houses in Bokaro district’s Gomila block. Most of them do odd jobs, including travelling with monkeys that perform tricks.

Meanwhile, in the presence of The Indian Express, a young man claiming to represent local Congress MLA Madhav Lal Singh visited Nakabandi’s family with a gift of assorted vegetables.

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  1. A
    Anuradha Kalhan
    Jul 11, 2014 at 3:19 pm
    Heart breaking! What women amount to in India and what do dalit/ poor woman amount to? And how will decentralization and panchayati raj help in this type of society?Why is economic growth the obsession in, why not social transformation first foremost?
  2. Z
    Jul 11, 2014 at 2:33 pm
    Mera Bhaarat Mahaan.. women should be armed with guns in the country. Lets see how many rapes occur then
  3. B
    Jul 11, 2014 at 10:04 am
    This proves India is a land of savages.
  4. S
    Jul 12, 2014 at 7:09 am
    Very tragic. Women being treated with no respect. Besides the w issue of law and order. This guy should be immediately arrested and charged. From what I understand, this was a 10 year old girl - for heaven's sake! There are so many things wrong with this picture.
  5. M
    Madhav Srinivasan
    Jul 11, 2014 at 4:45 am
    We deserve to hang ourselves in shame. As long as this country doesn't learn to stop this violence against its women, it is just doomed. We don't need to worry about terrorists when we practice this kind of violence on our own.
  6. G
    Jul 11, 2014 at 8:14 am
    true that people don't expect justice from police and courts anymore.so there will be more cases of personal justice hereforth.but molestation could've only be balanced by molestation, not rape- when you go by the standards of vindictive justice too.too many crimes happen in india for people to remember or care.
  7. S
    Jul 12, 2014 at 10:10 pm
    Hmmm.. Is this a case of Dalit exploitation? This is an eye for an eye justice meted out by illiterate people which is blatantly against all norms of civil society. There are umpteen cases of Dalit exploitation, agreed, but the media goes overboard in sensationalizing things. In the absence of proper justice mechanisms, this "eye for an eye" revenge is how traditionally villagers and tribals discourage such things.
  8. A
    Jul 12, 2014 at 7:13 am
    Our politicians must stop doing politics atleast in these matters...why is that headman allowed to run a parallel government ??
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