The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rabri draws flak on gangrape

Patna, Jan. 8: On the defensive after “fake encounter deaths” rocked Bihar, the Rabri Devi government today faced renewed flak from the Opposition over the gangrape of at least six backward caste women in Lakhisarai district, which came to light recently.

Opposition leaders like Sushil Modi and Lok Janshakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan used the alleged rape case to whip up an anti-government mood.

Modi demanded the “dismissal” of the police station in-charge in Barahiya, where the incident took place, and urged the chief minister to visit the area.

“Some of the victims who ran away from the village after the incident refused to come to the police to lodge an FIR for fear of reprisals as well as social taboo. I met one Manju Devi with a gaping head injury. She was hidden in a village by her relatives,” Modi said.

Paswan criticised Laloo Prasad Yadav for “becoming the messiah of criminals and not Dalits”. The Janshakti leader accused the ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal of harbouring criminals and exploiting Dalits.

According to the FIR lodged at the Barahiya police station on January 3, antisocials belonging to the upper castes swooped down on Dumri-Gopalpur village on the night of January 1. The village is dominated by members of backward castes, who are mostly migrant labourers.

The inebriated antisocials broke open the windows to enter the houses and dragged the women out in the absence of the men, who were away on work.

Although the women tried to resist the armed men, the elderly women were herded and locked in a room. At least six of the relatively younger women were then taken to a paddy field adjacent to the village and allegedly raped.

Police station in-charge K.K. Sharma registered a case of attempted rape on January 2 after initial reports were received. Later, when the news filtered down to neighbouring villages triggering a wave of protests, the police registered a rape case.

District superintendent of police K.K. Verma said the women who lodged the complaints were medically examined. The medical reports confirmed rape.

Saying that a probe has been ordered into the incident, the police chief added that preliminary investigations hinted at the involvement of the Khekhar Singh gang. Verma said three suspects have been arrested.

Paswan, who has launched a satyagraha in Patna, came out with strong slogans against the rape and urged youngsters to fight. The state women’s commission, led by its chairperson Manju Prakash, visited the area today and assured the victims to take up the case at the highest level.

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