Over a week after a Dalit woman was allegedly gang-raped and killed in Telangana’s Komaram Bheem (Asifabad) district, villagers are staging protests against the police for failing to take action to prevent the crime. They claim they had complained against the three accused in the case earlier. The protests come amid widespread outrage over recent the gangrape and murder of a veterinary doctor in Hyderabad.
According to the police, the woman, a hawker, was found dead on November 25. She and her husband would sell wares in the villages of Lingapur and Jainoor mandals. On November 24, the couple walked up to Yallapatur and then went in different directions. In the evening when the man returned, the wife was not there and her phone was also switched off. After searching for her for two-three hours, her husband lodged a police complaint.
Based on forensic reports, police said she was raped and killed and the body was thrown in bushes. Police said, as per preliminary probe, the woman was waylaid by the three accused while she was walking on a lonely stretch of road between Yellapatur and Ramayana Thanda villages in Lingapur mandal on November 24 afternoon. The three accused — Sheikh Babu, Sheikh Maqdoom and Sheikh Shabuddin — have been arrested and villagers alleged that they were habitual offenders.
Villagers and Dalit organisations in the district blamed police for not taking any preventive action against the trio despite multiple complaints previously. “The three accused belong to Yellapatur and are addicted to drugs and alcohol. They are teak wood smugglers and notorious for misbehaving with women and have made several attempts to kidnap tribal women working alone in the forests. They were fined several times by the village panchayat, and in spite of police complaints, no action was taken against the trio,” said Teku Navin, a member of Jainoor Adivasi Sangh.
The tribal villages and settlements in the district are trying to impose prohibition by closing down liquor shops since last two months.
The police, however, say there was was no actionable complaint against the accused earlier. “Their village sarpanch had fined them a couple of times for misbehaving and creating nuisance but there was no police complaint,” Komaram Bheem Asifabad SP P Malla Reddy said.
Lingapur Sub-Inspector N Venkatesh said, “The accused confessed that they abducted the woman at a lonely stretch and took her to a nearby forest area and raped her. They tried to throttle her but she fought back so they stabbed her several times and slit her throat. Maqdoom has a criminal record, he was arrested earlier for robbery. All three smuggle teak wood and make money and spend the entire day taking drugs or consuming alcohol. They are known as criminal elements in the village and villagers said that they misbehave with women but there was no complaint to take any kind of action against them.”