Five rapes over in 36 hours in Uttar Pradesh might have sent shock waves across the country's most populous state, but the Akhilesh Yadav government's top officials have chosen to remain in denial mode. Sharat Pradhan reports
The public outrage, not only across the length and breadth of the country, but even at the level of the United Nations, might have caused immense embarrassment to the nation. But Uttar Pradesh officials do not wish to accept the ground reality.
That was amply demonstrated on Thursday evening in Lucknow where an officer of the rank of inspector general of police flatly refused to give the statistics of rapes.
In the absence of a Samajwadi Party leader or any senior government officials, who were camping in New Delhi where the chief minister was hosting an Investor's meet, the day's routine briefing by the home department was addressed by IG of Police Amrendra Sengar.
While he chose to give a monologue on the state's plans to modernise the police, he shied away from taking any queries about the rape incidents. He went to the extent of even refusing to give out the basic number of rapes that had taken place in the state since the twin rape and murder at Badaun on May 27.
"I am not aware of the number of rapes that have taken place in the state since the Badaun incident" he said, while adding, "Actually, we will have to calculate the total figure; therefore, I cannot tell you right now. I do not carry all crime statistics in my pocket."
Meanwhile, expressing deep concern over the spate of rapes, state Bharatiya Janata Party president Laxmi Kant Bajpai on Thursday met UP Governor B.L.Joshi and gave him a formal letter seeking dismissal of the Akhilesh government.
However, cops were busy finding ways and means to deny some of the rapes reported. Among these was the alleged rape and murder of a 45-year-old woman in a village of Bahraich district on Tuesday night. They have also refuted the claims of another woman who had charged four cops including a sub-inspector of Hamirpur police of subjecting her to gang rape, when she went pleading to the police station to get her husband released from an illegal detention.
The IG flatly refused to talk about the rapes in Moradabad, Kushinagar and Sitapur districts, from where detailed reports were flooded in the media.
Significantly, in two of these five cases, the body of the victim was found hanging from a tree -- quite akin to the manner in which the two teenaged cousin sisters were gang-raped and hung from a tree in Katra village of Budaun district on May 27. The horrifying incident not only provoked a national public outcry but also aroused concern at the United Nations.
In Bahraich, the body of the victim was found hanging from a tree on the outskirts of her village, Kurianpurwa, which falls under the jurisdiction of Ranipur police circle on Wednesday morning. She had been missing from the previous evening and her son has blamed five persons belonging to the same village. He has alleged that the rape and murder was an act of vengeance by the culprits, against whom he had complained about indulgence in illicit liquor trade.
In Hamirpur, the culprits were none other than the guardians of law. According to a spokesman at the state police headquarters, “The sub-inspector accused of committing the rape on the woman has been put under arrest while we have launched a manhunt for the three constables accused of being party to the crime.” He added, “Meanwhile, preliminary investigation is on to confirm the charges.”
In Moradabad, the body of a 16-year-old girl -- a Class XI student -- was found hanging from a tree in Rajpur Milak village, which falls under Thakurdwara police station. Her family members have alleged gang rape and murder. Her body has been sent for post-mortem. The girl is a Yadav and the accused is a Dalit.
In Kushinagar, an 18-year-old girl was allegedly raped by two persons in Siswan Nahar village, which falls under Kubersthan police station. She was stabbed with a knife and dumped in a village pond. The victim managed to come out of the pond after which she was taken by villagers to the local hospital where she is struggling for survival. The accused, identified as Pintu Yadav and Janardhan Kushwaha, are still at large.
In Misrikh area of Sitapur district, a 20-year-old girl has accused an auto-rickshaw driver of whisking her away to a deserted spot, where he was joined by two others, who gang-raped her. She was also allegedly beaten for resisting the assault.
Image:The grandmother of one of the two teenage girls, who were raped and hanged from a tree, stands inside her house at Badaun district in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters