Members of Morcha stage a demonstration in front of mahila thana in Ranchi on Wednesday. (Hardeep Singh)
A mob of at least 200 women gheraoed the all-women’s police station near Ranchi’s Saheed Chowk on Wednesday, accusing its officer-in-charge Sheila Toppo of sitting on cases and doing little to address their grievances.
The protest, which triggered traffic snarls, was led by women activists, all members of Kanke-based Addi Haq Mahila Morcha, who were armed with banners with slogans like “Aropi ko jald girafatar karo”, “Police prasashan mile hai,” “Humara haq do” and “Sheila Toppo ko saja do”. A few protesters even broke down.
“Four months ago, I registered a case against my husband and mother-in-law, who have been torturing me since my marriage two years ago. But no action was taken against them. I had approached Sheilaji, but she didn’t even lodge an FIR against my husband and in-laws,” said 22-year-old Shabana Parveen, a resident of Karbala Chowk, as tears rolled down her cheeks.
Like Parveen, a rape victim from Kanke block also demanded justice. “The incident took place a few months ago and I had lodged a complaint here. But the case is still pending. Madam (Sheila Toppo) has not arrested the accused,” said the sobbing 18-year-old.
One of the members of Addi Haq Mahila Morcha, Shanti Priya, criticised the police station’s way of functioning. “Hum log bahut dino se koshish kar rahe ki sab ko nyay mile, lekin kuch nahi hua (We have been trying for a long time to ensure justice for all, but nothing has happened),” she said.
Commuters bore the major brunt of the hour-long gherao as the women stopped vehicles from moving near Shaheed Chowk.
However, Toppo remained nonchalant even as the crisis outside escalated. Guarded by a few constables, she declared: “When I joined in May, 2011, I used to receive just 30 to 40 cases, but now every month, we are registering 100 cases, which itself speaks about my service. Agar hum cases solve nahi karte, to log kyun aate humare paas? (If I had not solved the cases, why would people come to me?)” she said.
“Many victims approach us a long time after the crime is committed. It becomes difficult to solve such cases,” she said, threatening to take action against the protesters.
Kotwali police station Suraj Bhushan Sharma had to intervene. Sharma could somewhat pacify the protesters as Arpana Bara, a member of the organisation, was seen requesting him to write down complaints of the victims and solve their problems at the earliest. Bara also informed the officer about another rape victim, who died while delivering a child a year back.
“The girl’s parents are clueless as to whom to approach. We want exemplary punishment for the culprit and hope that speedy justice will be meted out,” Bara said.