The BJP government in Rajasthan has come under heavy fire from opposition political parties and rights activists over two separate incidents of rape of minors reported from Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s home turf Jhalawar last weekend. Pointing at glaring omissions by police in the cases, the parties and activists have said that at least in one of the cases, prompt police action could have saved the life of a girl.
While a teen from Kholi village belonging to a minority community was gangraped and murdered when she was out grazing cattle, in the second case a five-year-old girl belonging to the Scheduled Caste Kanjar community from neighbouring Narayan Khedi village was raped while she was sleeping on the terrace of her house. Both cases were reported on May 31.
Although the family of the girl from Kholi village said in their FIR that she was aged 14, police claimed that documents from the school that she attended till 2007 show she was 20. The victim had gone out to graze cattle but when she did not return till late evening, her father and other family members went to the police station in Bakani. They were told by the head constable that a missing person report would be filed only after they gave the girl’s photograph. The family came back home and as it was late, they decided to return to the police station next day. Early next morning, the girl’s body was found 4 km from the village. In the autopsy report, she was found to be six months pregnant.
In the second case, the five-year-old girl was raped by a neighbour while she was sleeping on the terrace. On hearing her scream, the victim’s mother caught the neighbour. The accused, who too is a minor, has been detained and sent to an observation home.
Congress Pradesh Committee president Sachin Pilot visited the victims’ families on Tuesday. Talking about the Kholi village case, Pilot told The Indian Express on the phone from Jhalawar, “Had the police filed the complaint and launched a search operation, the girl could have been saved. None of the sections incorporated following the Delhi gangrape case have been invoked. There has been gross negligence on the part of the state government despite the fact that the CM as well as her son Dushyant Singh (MP) represent the area.”
“It was because the SHO was busy on VIP duty with the MP visiting the area that the search operation was not undertaken,” he alleged.
“The police and the medical officers are trying to tone down the severity of the incidents. The CM is yet to visit the families. The victims’ families feel threatened and they should be given police protection,” Pilot said.
Raje has represented Jhalawar five times as MP and is currently the MLA from Jhalrapatan, which is under Jhalawar Lok Sabha constituency. Her son Dushyant has been the MP from Jhalawar since 2004.
SP Rahul Barhat said, “We have arrested all accused in both the cases, except one who we are confident of nabbing soon. In the case of the five-year-old, a challan will be filed later this week. The head constable who did not act promptly has been suspended.”
District Collector Vishnu Charan said in the rape-murder case, a compensation of Rs 3 lakh has been given to the victim’s family and her eldest brother has been registered with the State Livelihood Development Corporation.
People’s Union for Civil Liberties general secretary Kavita Srivastava said not enough action has been taken against the erring police officials in the case involving the five-year-old girl. “Suspending the head constable is not enough. Section 166 A of the IPC should be invoked and a police case should be filed against him,” she said. She demanded complete rehabilitation of the five-year-old, including ensuring her full education, and Rs 10 lakh compensation for her family.
She demanded Rs 25 lakh for the parents of the victim from Kholi village as she lost her life due to the callous attitude of the state functionaries.