Bhopal, Nov. 22: Urmila, a 35-year-old mother of two, ended her life after waiting for justice for six years.
The Dalit woman who was raped for raising her voice against corruption made one last lunge for justice, submitting a memorandum to district collector Arun Bhatt hours before she died today.
“Why should I live' My life has become a joke. I have not got justice, that is why I consumed poison before going to the collector’s office,” she said in her dying declaration.
At the Betul district hospital, where she had been rushed by her husband yesterday after she returned from the collectorate, Urmila said she was tired of having the label “badchalan”(woman of loose morals) thrown at her by the influential Yadav community.
In 2001, as a panchayat member Urmila had spoken out against corruption by the influential Yadav sarpanch of her village in Betul district, about 175km south of Bhopal. As punishment, she was raped by his son Kallu Yaduvanshi.
A police case was filed last month, after six years of persistence.
In the interim, Urmila was raped again by the same man — in 2003, this time for daring to seek justice.
Betul superintendent of police Jagat Singh today claimed his force had gone looking for Yaduvanshi several times, but failed to find him.
District collector Bhatt, the last official Urmila had appealed to for justice, said he had forwarded her representation to the local police. Villager Shyam Rao said the woman was despairing when she approached Bhatt.
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan expressed grief over Urmila’s death and said the culprits will be booked.
In September, a mob had burnt down a village in Betul belonging to the Pardi tribe, holding the villagers responsible for the rape and murder of an upper caste woman. No action has been taken yet.
Social activist Shamim Modi said in Madhya Pradesh, rape was a common instrument of revenge. Modi quoted Chauhan’s statement in the Assembly that between December 7, 2003, and June 30, 2007, 1,224 cases of rape had been reported. This amounted to a rape a day, she said.