Stripped Dalit girl says caste-hatred behind attack

The 22-year old Dalit girl was stripped and paraded semi-naked in the bylanes of Mira Dargah Street in South Mumbai.

Written by Sukanya Shetty | Mumbai | Published: June 28, 2010 3:34 am

Even with round-the-clock police security,the 22-year old Dalit girl has not stepped out of her house for more than a week after she was stripped and paraded semi-naked in the bylanes of Mira Dargah Street in Reay Road area,a hub of warehouses in South Mumbai.

“A mob of 23-30 women and a few men entered my house,beat me with bamboo sticks,kicked me,tore my gown,stripped me and dragged me to the street. I pleaded,but they hurled abuses at me,” Rajini Rajini Kamble (name changed) recalls.

The mob attack on June 17 was ostensibly to “teach a lesson to the family” after her brother Vijay Kamble was picked up allegedly for raping a minor in a nearby warehouse where he worked as a guard,but the girl says caste-based hatred for the family runs a long way back.

“The upper class women in the neighbourhood would always abuse us… They would not allow us to draw water from the community water pump. They waited for an opportunity to attack our family,” she says.

In 2008,the girl’s mother had written to the local police station about death threats her family had received. “Neighbours would force us to cough up money to use a public water pump. When I didn’t give in to the demand,they threatened us. The only person they feared was my son and now he is in jail,” says her mother.

On June 17,over 30 women and a few men assembled in the area on knowing she was alone at home,according to the girl who has registered a case with Sewree police station. “They stripped me and kept telling me my family is a disgrace to the area… A few men joined them. One recorded the drama on his cellphone,” she said. The drama went on for over 30 minutes before police reached the spot,she says.

“The mob had planned it well in advance. The incident occurred 10 days after her brother’s arrest on June 7. It’s a clear case of atrocity,” said ACP Dilip Waghmare,Wadala Division.

Waghmare said Rajini’s friend and next-door neighbour Sayeeda Qazi came to her assistance and wrapped a duppatta around her. “We have recorded statements of witnesses,especially Sayeeda’s,” says Waghmare.

Twelve people identified by the victim were arrested and sent to police custody till July 1. “We are still looking for a few more women who fled from the spot. Security would be provided to the family until things calm down,” says Waghmare.

All accused,including 10 women and two men are booked under several sections of the Indian Penal Code for unlawful assembly,rioting,outraging the modesty of a woman along with section 3 (1),3(10) and 3 (11) of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

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