“Main police afsar ban-ne ja rahi hoon… koshish karoongi jo mere saath hua wo kisi aur ladki ke saath na ho (I am going to become a policewoman. I will try to ensure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to any other girl),” says the 19-year-old Alwar gangrape survivor, as she prepares to become a constable in the Rajasthan Police.
The Dalit woman was gangraped by five men in Alwar, when she was on her way to the market along with her husband to purchase clothes for a wedding. A sixth accused filmed the incident and circulated the video on social media.
Three months on, the woman says she is still struggling to cope with the trauma. “I joined on July 1, and I have been living in police accommodation since. I have a woman security personnel with me at all times… But at night, when I am alone, I feel scared…,” she says.
The crime took place on April 26, but according to the woman’s family, the police, despite repeated complaints, registered an FIR only on May 2. The first arrest was made on May 7 — three days after the video was circulated. “They claimed there was no staff to file a case since the elections were underway,” the woman had said then.
The irony of joining a service that allegedly failed to take timely action in her case is not lost on the woman. “The videos could have been stopped if they had filed a case in time… At the police station where I am deployed, no one knows about my case, par mujhe pataa hai ek aurat par aise haadse ke baad kya beet-ti hai (But I know what a woman goes through after rape). I will do my duty well,” she said over the phone.
She added that she was not allowed to step out of the police accommodation for now. “My husband and I have been living separately since I came here,” she said. The husband has been staying with relatives.
The past months, she said, had been “very difficult” for the family, and they had been forced to leave their home in Alwar. “We have been getting threats from the Gurjar community (to which the accused belong). Not just my husband and I, but also my relatives… Mere chacha-sasur ko dhoondte hue aaye the kuchh log (Some men came looking for my father-in-law).”
The woman, who is 19 and has been married for two years now, has studied up to Class 11. “I want to take up my studies again, and complete Class 12,” she said.
The threats to the family prompted the woman and her husband to move out of Alwar. “A month ago, the threats increased, and the police suggested that we move out, and so we did. For the past month we have been doing the rounds of courts, recording our testimonies. We have just finished doing that,” said her husband, who is 21.
Besides the advice from the police, the couple had another reason to move. “The accused have been arrested, and I hope that we get justice, but the video of the incident is still there. We were assured that all videos have been removed, but even then a lot of people have seen it… Everyone in Alwar had seen it. People point at me and say, ‘Isi ka video tha (It was his video)’. I can feel their eyes on me,” he said.
The man was a student at an ITI at the time of the incident. He has now been travelling to Alwar to appear for his exams, which are scheduled to end on July 30. “Finding a job will be a challenge. Word often spreads about such cases,” he said.
For his wife, who has been reporting at her assigned police station every day, the past 25 days have been “very confusing”. “I haven’t got any joining letter and I don’t know what salary will I get… Every morning I go and simply sit at the police station. When I ask the officers for work, they say, ‘Aapko akele kahan bhejein? (Where do we send you alone?),” she said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Kavindra Singh Sagar, however, said the woman’s job and role in the force have been finalised. “She has been given a joining letter and will be going for police training very soon. If she faces any issue, we will help her out,” he said.
Asked about the security personnel accompanying her, Sagar said, “She is a police personnel herself, she has joined. Why does she need someone for security?”
The gangrape case was raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the time of the Lok Sabha elections. He accused the Congress government of Rajasthan of “suppressing” the news, after which Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Congress president Rahul Gandhi met the survivor and promised action.
All the six accused have been arrested, and the woman has received compensation from the government.
“At the time of the election, we got a lot of attention, but no one has come to see us since… The compensation money has helped but it’s the shame and fear that we will have to fight for many years to come. We will have to live with it,” her husband said.
The woman said she had felt better in the past two days. “The place where I have been put up by the police has two other women now. They are about my age… They have also joined recently. I find it a little easier to sleep now… But not completely. Those three hours (of April 26) keep playing on my mind,” she said.