| People in Bhagalpur take out a rally to protest atrocities against a woman. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Bhagalpur, Jan. 4: A candle march was taken out today near Station Chowk to deliver justice to a 40-year-old woman who suffered not once but twice in the hands of men.
Known to all in the town as Pagli (mad woman), the victim suffered first in the hands of a gang of criminals and then her husband. The frail woman now roams around on the streets in tattered clothes. Children tease her for her mental instability.
Few knew what the woman went through. The candlelight march enlightened many on Friday.
“I am the only mother who wants her daughter to die. It is impossible to see her in pain. Who would take care of her after my death?” asked Pagli’s 70-year-old mother.
Sobbing, she narrated her daughter’s plight, the memory of which gave the mother occasional shivers.
“Till 1987, everything was perfect in our house. My husband and I were happy with our four sons and this daughter. My husband worked in the fisheries department here,” the mother said.
“All hell broke loose on October 10, 1987. My daughter went missing on her way to Mokshada Government Girls’ High School. She was then a Class X student,” she said.
She claimed that they had a beautiful house on Naya Road at Ishak Chowk.
Hailing from Ratanpur under Naugachia sub-division of Bhagalpur, the Bengali family had purchased a four-cottah land in 1979 and had built the house. Local rogues demanded extortion when they were building the house. But the family refused.
After the house was complete, the family rented out a part of it to Sambhu Nath Jaiswal and his wife Parvati. “Just before my daughter went missing, the couple, in connivance with the criminals whom they refused ransom, demanded Rs 2 lakh and threatened us with dire consequences if we asked them to leave our house,” the mother said.
A kidnapping case was lodged with the Ishak Chowk police station after “Pagli” went missing. The father had named the couple in the FIR. The case was lodged under Section 336 of CRPC on October 10, 1987.
In the same year in December, the girl was found near her residence with bruises all over her body. Her family suspected she was gang raped.
“She came back home but she could neither hear nor speak. The cops took her to the police station to record her statement. They did not care for her mental state,” she said.
On May 5, 1988, the case was closed because of lack of evidence.
In January 30, 1991, Pagli’s father passed away. The family sold off their Naya Road house and a plot at Ranitalab in the city to meet both ends.
After some time, the eldest brother of “Pagli” bagged a Grade-IV government job and managed to get her married in 1998.
In February 1999, Pagli’s husband beat her black and blue and she suffered a miscarriage when she was seven-month pregnant.
“She was recovering from her horrific past, when this incident (miscarriage) struck her again. She couldn’t bear it and turned completely mad. Her husband then left her,” said the eldest son of the family.
On Friday, members of different NGOs had gathered on the streets to get “Pagli” her share of justice. “We would pressurise the administration to reopen the case and punish the culprits,” said Gautam Sumon, the chairperson of Angika Utthan Samiti.