She sits in a makeshift space near the tracks of a suburban railway station, still bearing signs of knife injuries on her neck. Recalling the day of the incident on May 9 2012, the rape survivor says she did not know the two accused, but was told by the other victim about a catering job they had to offer. After she lost her parents and an elder sibling to tuberculosis, the victim began working as a ragpicker to earn herself enough money for food.
“We would usually face harassment from authorities near the railway station, who would not let us sit in the premises. The other victim and I both decided to go along with the accused, hoping it would be a change from our jobs as ragpickers. So, we went as we were promised a job in catering,” the victim, who was around 18-19 years of age at the time of the incident, said.
“I fell unconscious after the attack and woke up to find myself bleeding. I gathered the strength to escape. I remember I could not even stand as I had been stabbed in many places and was bleeding profusely. I somehow jumped off the bridge (in CBD Belapur) and then again fell unconscious. I woke up in the hospital and remained there for almost a month,” she said. The victim had sustained 16 injuries. She says that she only came to know later that the other victim accompanying her had succumbed to injuries.
After her discharge from the hospital, she was sent to the care of an ashram, she says. “The police told me that since I was the main witness in the case, my safety was important. I was sent to the ashram and from there, I was assigned to work in a hospital for patients with mental illnesses. I was told that once the men are convicted, I could leave. After five years, I told them I wanted to leave since I did not like it there and came back here again,” she says.
The victim now continues to work as a ragpicker near the station premises. “I told the policemen they could find me here if they required me in the case. The fact that the accused were in prison assured me of my safety. I was hoping that they would be convicted. I am glad that no mercy was shown to them as the attack on us was brutal,” she said.
“I know that women ragpickers face abuse often. But I returned as I had done nothing wrong,” she said. The court has directed the Thane District Legal Services Authority to recommend compensation to the surviving victim. “One person had come to inquire about the compensation. I hope that I can buy a small room with the money if I am given any. I will feel safer than having to sleep out on the street,” the victim said.