India: Rule of Law or Rule of Lord in Modi of Banaras, India?
ISSUES: Sexual assault, corruption; impunity; threat, right to live with dignity, Right to life with dignity, forced burning, Murder
26th December, 2014
Woke up to the news of Shama's death this morning. 20 year old Shama (name changed) was the only girl in her family who was studying and had dreams of getting a job and supporting her poor family. Shama was being molested by 3 boys since June 2014. On 18th Dec the boys entered her house and tried to rape her while her family was away. Shama put up a fight and screamed out loud. The boys then poured kerosene and burnt her. RIP Shama(name Changed), you were very brave! (From facebook wall of Smita Sharma, a photographer)
In yet another case of the most barbaric crimes against women, a young girl was put on fire with the intention to burn her alive in Matakund police post under Sigra police station in Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh. The incident took place around 11 to 12 PM when the accused forcibly entered the house of Mohammed Ameen and set his daughter Shama (name changed) ablaze by sprinkling kerosene on her. The girl is battling for her life in a hospital. The crime was committed by some police informers after the parents of the girl made complaint against them. The accused police informers have been constantly making advances in the past few months trying to molest and sexually abuse the young girl.
Realising the severity of the crime, The People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights of Varanasi has written to the MP of Varanasi & Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Shri Akhilesh Yadav, the National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women, and the senior district and police officers urging them to intervene in the case and form a high-level inquiry team to initial legal action against all the accused parties. It has also demanded that the victim Shama (name changed) should be paid a compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs and be provided adequate treatment facilities and medical care. Police officials found guilty of not following the due process of law in the case should be tried under section 166 A of IPC. This heinous crime underscores the urgent need to implement police reforms and pass the Anti-Torture Bill pending in Rajya Sabha and also highlights the need to ratify the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT) by the government of India. A careful reading of the facts of the events reveals that rule of law is completely missing and instead it seems that informers at the service of police department are dictating the law and order in the city. Even the police actions are in violation of guidelines given by the Supreme Court of India and directions of the high police officials are not being followed.
The family of the victim has been complaining about the obscene behaviour of these police informers with their daughter since 13 June, 2014, but their voice went in vain in front of the gigantic police hierarchy. Instead of taking any action on their complaint, the police have been harassing and threatening the family. Tacit support and inaction on the part of Varanasi police emboldened the morale of the accused who finally committed the heinous crime.
The incident clearly shows that crime of sexual abuse of a young girl was being done with the support of Matakund Police post. This is not an isolated incident in the area. In yet another case in Lahanga Khurd Lallapur locality under the Sigra police station, a 10 year old minor boy Babloo ( name changed) working with a sari cloth merchant Mr. Salauddin was confined in a house for 7 hours and badly beaten and tortured by the said merchant by falsely accusing him of stealing Rs. 20 lakhs. This incident occurred on 31 August 2014 and Mr. Hamid (Babu Lal), father of the minor boy sent his written complaint by registered post to the local police station including the higher police officials. On the contrary the Singra police station filed an FIR against the minor boy and his parents on the complaint by the sari merchant Salauddin. In the said incident immediate action should have been taken by the police against Mr. Salauddin under the Child labour Prohibition Act and Juvenile Justice Act for forcing a minor boy into child labour and torturing him physically. Similarly in the case of burning of the young girl, the police department instead of following the due course of law seems giving full protection to the violators of law.
All the accused in the young girl case were working as police informers for Matakund police post and they were serving as cooks and washer men for the police officials of Matakund police post. The victim and her family had already given their complaint many times against the immoral conducts of the informers in Matakund police post, Lallapura and Singra police station. The aggrieved family never got any help from the police and the victim, Shama(name Changed) unable to put up the behaviour of informers got frustrated and was finally forced to discontinue her studies in between. Shama stopped coming out of her home due the constant fear of sexual harassment. Whenever she dared to came out of her house to buy household items or to attend the sewing classes, she continuously faced sexual harassment by the police informers. Her parents repeatedly complained to the police about this.
The aggrieved family approached the office of People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), Varanasi on December 8, 2014 and complained about the police negligence and inaction in their matter. They also narrated their painful story. People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) took their case and informed Senior Superintendent of Police, Varanasi, DGP, Uttar Pradesh and Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh through a registered post and registered a complaint about the police negligence in the matter. On the advice of PVCHR in December 11, 2014 the aggrieved family filed a written complaint in the office of I G Varanasi zone about the atrocities and torture being meted out to them. The PRO of IG, Varanasi zone called up the Sigra police station and directed the police officials there to take this case seriously. It is necessary to mention here that Singra police station in charge was also responsible to look after the daily affairs of Matakund police post so negligence on the part of police here was inevitable. After this the victim Shama along with her parents gave a written complaint to the IG, Varansi zone on 12 December, 2014 and on their complaint IG, Varanasi zone gave the responsibility to SSP Varanasi to investigate the whole matter. Despite all this, Sigra police station and Matakund police post officials neither registered a police FIR against three accused namely Babudan, Gabbu and Pappu nor did they take any legal action against them. The accused police informers were not happy with the victim’s family for filing a complaint against them. With the tacit support of the police and police inaction in the case further boosted the confidence of the accused informers. As a consequence they decided to forcibly enter the house of Mohammed Ameen at around 11 to 12 PM and set the victim Shama ablaze by sprinkling kerosene on her.
It is a tragic irony that on the one hand India has been honoured with Noble peace prize for protection the rights of child and women but on the other one also witnesses the grave injustice and insensitivity as shown by the police officials in Matakund police post in this case that not only boosted the morale of criminals but also tacitly supported them to commit such a heinous crime in an organised fashion. As a result the young victim today is fighting the battle of her life in the hope of getting justice for her and her family and similarly the minor boy is still bearing the scars of police torture.
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