Over 2500 residents join Ajsu workers at a candlelight rally on Saturday in Hazaribagh against two grisly crimes — gang rape of a schoolgirl and killing of a Birhor schoolboy. Picture by Vishvendu Jaipuriar
Hazaribagh, Sept. 1: It is as rare as it is heartening. Deepugarha, a posh locality on Canary Road, is standing staunchly behind the 16-year-old rape victim, bravely bucking the ageless trend of stigmatising the girl and indulgently dismissing the man.
Yesterday night, hours after the arrest of accused Dhanu Ram and Anurag Basu at New Bus Stand area and subsequent canvassing of inspector (CID, not vigilance as reported earlier) Arjun Ram at sadar thana to get his son released, Deepugarha residents held a two-hour meeting. There, the unanimous resolve to socially boycott the Ram family was taken.
The decision, made by some 40 prominent persons of the upper class locality, slammed the Dhanu-Arjun duo for “twin crimes” of rape and attempt to protect a rapist, and decided on a three-point action plan.
“We will have no contact with the family of inspector (CID) Arjun Ram, won’t go to his Deepugarha house or talk to any family member. We will demand speedy trial for all the four rapists in a fast-track court. We will try to rehabilitate the victim socially and economically,” ran the manifesto.
Under the banner of new outfit Hazaribagh Ki Aam Janata, Deepugarha residents have called a bandh on September 3 to protest against the gang rape, demanding Rs 10 lakh for her rehab and a government job for a family member.
Now, all the four who raped the girl for two days at the empty summerhouse of former Trinamul MP from Bengal, Tutu Bose, have been arrested. Along with Ritesh and Sonu, Dhanu and Anurag have also been sent to central jail.
The girl’s medical examination reports, which were handed to sadar police station today, have confirmed rape.
Dhanu, by flaunting his father’s official connections, had enjoyed a free run for years in the neighbourhood. Convinced that no one would have the guts to stand up against him, he and his friends raped the 16-year-old schoolgirl of a poor family of milk vendors in captivity for two days from August 26 at the empty summerhouse of former MP Tutu Bose of Bengal.
The girl, once released on August 28, narrated her ordeal to her parents. They approached sadar police station the next day. The girl showed great courage by appearing before court in person to name the rapists. But the real revelation has been the progressive attitude of the neighbours.
Far from shielding the policeman’s son, they have sided with the victim from Day One.
Yesterday evening, when inspector Arjun Ram was pressing sadar thana OC Dinesh Kumar to release his son, an angry mob chased him for around one kilometer.
A Deepugarha resident summed up the mood. “Beta ne purey Hazaribagh ko sharmsar kiya aur baap usko bachane mein laga hai (Son has shamed Hazaribagh and father is trying to save him),” he said.
Later at night, tempers cooled and reason prevailed as the 40 residents met and firmed their plan of social boycott.
Ajay Kumar Singh, principal of Rose Bud Public School in Deepugarha, who was part of this meeting, said: “We respect the law of the land. Our decision to boycott the family socially is to send a strong message that we condemn the heinous crime. But we won’t restrict any member of the Ram family from buying provisions from local shops.”
On why they remained mum about Dhanu earlier, he said: “People normally avoid coming out publicly in protest and invite enmity. But this gang rape shook us. It made us united. It’s a good sign.”
Arjun Ram, however, claimed today he did not know about the social boycott. “I don’t have any information and I don’t want to comment on it,” he told The Telegraph.