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From cops to MLA, all from upper caste, says father

11 Days On, Questions Cloud Death Of Dalit Sisters In Rajasthan

Rajasthan, gangrape, Dalit sisters, Rajputs, Dalit sisters gangrape, Indian Express, Indian Express News The victims’ house. Express

ELEVEN days after their bodies were found on railway tracks 1.5 km from their home, there is no clarity on the death of two Dalit sisters in a village in Rajasthan’s Neem-Ka-Thana tehsil.

The family of the sisters, 20 and 17, has alleged gangrape by three upper-caste men — two Rajputs and a Brahmin. Police arrested two of them Friday. The same day, the case was transferred to Crime and Vigilance Cell in Inspector General’s office, Jaipur range. What is clear is that the sisters called the men to their home on April 5, and that the men left in a hurry after being seen by the girls’ brother. Some time later, the girls are alleged to have killed themselves by jumping before the Rewari-Phulera Express. The arrested include Bajrang Singh (27), a jeep driver and father of two, and his cousin, Vicky Singh (21), who is from a nearby village. The third accused is a 15-year-old. The sisters were to appear for BA-first year exams next week.

According to police, call records of the accused show the girls called them at a time when no other family member was present. The girls knew Bajrang as they would often take a ride in his Jeep, which he operated as a taxi. Vicky was a fellow student.

The family says their youngest sibling, 16, returned home at about 10 am, and found the men with his sisters. Their clothes were allegedly torn. While the men ran away, the girls allegedly screamed that they had been raped. The sibling reportedly chased them, and says that when he returned home, his sisters were missing. The family says as they searched for them, an acquaintance told them their bodies had been found on the tracks.

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“After forensic reports established intercourse, we arrested two of the accused. The third accused’s presence at the scene is being probed,” police sources said.

The girls’ father, a construction worker, says that with “everyone from police to MLA being from the upper caste”, he was afraid they won’t get justice. The sisters’ village is dominated by Rajputs. The 250-odd Dalit families live at one end. The family says police initially refused to register an FIR, and that when they did after pressure from local Dalit residents, it was under Section 306 of the IPC, which covers abetment to suicide. Later, after civil rights groups protested, the family said, Sections 376 D (gang rape), 450 (trespassing) were added, along with sections of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

The girls’ elder sister, who teaches at a private school, says, “They told us my sisters committed suicide as they felt ashamed at being seen by their brother in a compromising position, and so he was responsible for their suicide.”

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Police said a complaint was recorded on April 5, and abetment to suicide and other sections added as information relating to the victims’ age etc became available. The family says while the 20-year-old wanted to join police, the younger one hoped to become a teacher. “I raised my children working at brick kilns. We were educating them so they could do something with their lives. Everything is gone now,” says the mother. Denying the rape charge, Vicky’s uncle Shrawan Singh said, “My nephew went to the village for an engagement function. He was also learning to drive from Bajrang. They were together when Bajrang got a call from the girls. So they went to meet them. But when the girls’ brother arrived and started fighting with them, they left.”

The incident has exposed the deep cleave in the village. Fuming at Dalit leaders for offering a compromise, a former up-sarpanch says, “They offered us Rs 20,000. Just imagine, had it happened the other way round, if our boys had done something like that to their girls, they would have burnt our settlement.”

First published on: 17-04-2017 at 05:33:12 am
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