GANGRAPE LESSON FOR LETTERED TRIBAL'S WIFE 

Read more below

By FROM SUCHANDANA GUPTA in Bhopal
  • Published 16.12.00
  •  
Bhopal, Dec. 16 :    Bhopal, Dec. 16:  A woman was gangraped repeatedly for three hours allegedly because her husband was an "educated" tribal - even as Ajit Jogi was being sworn in chief minister of Chhattisgarh by virtue of being a tribal. According to the 35-year-old Gond woman, a gang of 48 descended on her hutment in Botejhari, a Gond village in Balaghat district, soon after midnight on November 1. Some of the men owed allegiance to three major national parties, she said. Four of the victim's children - aged 11 and three - were sleeping outside in the verandah. The victim was sleeping inside with her husband, Kedar Singh Wadiva - a jobless engineer - and their one-year-old daughter. "They came in a gang. I suddenly woke up when I heard many men hurling abuses at my husband and me. They surrounded my house and first caught hold of my children who were sleeping outside and beat them up with batons." Before the parents could react about 15 men barged in. "They kicked open the door and ransacked the house and some started beating me with lathis, kicking, boxing, punching and hurling abuses on me, my wife and my children," Wadiva said. "They held a knife at my throat and started to strip my wife before my very eyes and my children. Then one after the other they started raping my wife. The influential ones did not rape but goaded the others to have a good time. I was helpless. "They kept torturing my wife till 3 am when their eyes fell on my seven-year-old daughter. They intended to rape her too, but, perhaps, God saved us. My daughter fainted as they started manhandling her. Thinking her dead they fled." "Our village consists of 500 families. As we ran out calling for help no one stepped out. We went to the police station, the police refused to lodge a complaint. Next morning we went to meet police superintendent Akhet Osema and collector Suleman Khan. Neither met us," the victim said. For over a month now, the family, including the one-year-old child, have been sitting on dharna on a main thoroughfare in Bhopal. The victim and her husband have pledged to fast unto death until justice is done. Nobody seems to be listening to the victim and her family. No medical check-up has been conducted and no case registered against the miscreants because of their political connections, the victim alleged. Director-general of police Subhash Tripathi, however, said a medical check-up has been done on the victim, but he did not have the details. Wadiva said his family was being tortured because he was an educated tribal. "I have an engineer's degree but never got a job. These men are doing this to me because no one appreciates an educated tribal who talks about protecting the rights of his own clan," he said. "I have been harassed since 1983 when I got the police to arrest poachers who were working for big men but blaming it on tribals. I got several truckloads of felled trees seized. Those trees were felled with the full knowledge of the forest department," he added. "They have tortured me all along, even indicted me in false cases, naming me a Naxalite. But this time they took it out on my family, " he said. Since reaching here on the evening of November 5 - the family confesses to having travelled ticketless - they have been running from pillar to post. The Gondwana Democratic Party arranged for a meeting with state home minister Mahendra Boudh. "We met him on November 7. The home minister instructed the IG in charge of Balaghat to look into the matter," Wadiva recalled. "But the IG did not get back to us." "Through the Gondwana Party we informed Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh that we would launch a fast-unto-death if he didn't intervene. But no reply came." Tired of seeking justice, the family started on a fast-unto-death on November 13. As the younger children fell ill, especially the babies, the police rushed to the scene. But the family refused to eat. On November 16, Wadiva met Governor Bhai Mahavir. The Governor instructed the police DG to look into the incident. A CID officer, Rajesh Tiwari, was given charge of the case. The police then took the family to a hospital and administered glucose and medicine to save the children. They tried to force feed the parents but failed. As the victim and her husband began to loose weight alarmingly, the doctors forced them to have lemon juice. But on November 24, the family escaped from the hospital and launched on their hunger-strike again on the pavement of a main thoroughfare in the city. "We did not ask for lemon juice, we asked for justice," the victim said. However, the children, though a part of the dharna, are not fasting now, the parents said.