- NL Sena
The BJP has accused the Congress government of ‘suppressing’ the incident due to elections.
The gang rape of a Dalit woman in the presence of her husband in Alwar has shocked the state and raised serious questions on the law and order situation in Rajasthan. The five accused raped the woman in the presence of her husband and also filmed the entire incident. The incident took place on April 26 and the victim lodged an FIR on May 2, but the police reportedly did not take any action due to the ongoing elections.
The matter may have been further suppressed if the video of the heinous crime had not gone viral on May 6—the day Alwar went to polls.
Swinging into action on May 7, 12 days after the incident, Rajasthan DGP Kapil Bhatt issued orders to suspend the Thanagazi SHO (thana in-charge) for the delay in taking action in the case. The FIR had been filed at Thanagazi Police Station.
The Alwar police today also launched an intensive search for the accused. Quick Response Teams and Forensic Scientific Lab teams have been pressed into action to pick up evidence from the location and search for the accused. Fourteen teams in total are combing the area to search for the accused. However, the inordinate delay and apathy by the police has created a situation wherein forensic evidence has probably been destroyed.
According to the FIR registered at the Thanagazi Police Station in Alwar on May 2, the victim and her husband were on their way from their village of Lalwadi to Talvriksh village at around 3 pm on a motorbike. Five men on two bikes followed them and stopped them by blocking the track with their bikes. They dragged the couple in the midst of tall mud hillocks. One filmed the incident, the second held the husband, and the remaining stripped the woman. The five took turns to rape her.
The FIR states that the victim was able to catch the names of three of her attackers: Chote Lal aka Sachin, Jeetu and Ashok. In her complaint, the victim says the accused threatened to make the video clips viral and also threatened to kill her and her husband. Fearing for their lives, she says, they did not lodge an FIR but when the accused began calling her husband and threatening him, the couple lodged a complaint.
Public resentment and anger peaked when the matter came to light after the video went viral on May 6. An all-community meet was called at Thanagazi village on the morning of Tuesday, May 7, to demand the arrest of the accused. Kirori Lal Meena, a stalwart tribal leader and Bharatiya Janata Party Rajya Sabha MP, reached Thanagazi and joined the protest. Meena also wrote a letter and demanded that the couple be provided security. “It is a shocking case of atrocity against Dalits. It is shameful to see how low the level of politics has stooped. Police inaction is even more shocking.”
Rajasthan DGP Kapil Bhatt addressed a press conference in Jaipur on the issue and confirmed that one person has been arrested and all five have been identified. He said, “All five have been identified and one has been arrested. He has been identified as Indraj Gurjar, a truck driver. We have 14 teams combing the area to nab the other four accused. No, the matter was not hushed up due to elections; the additional SP was investigating it.”
At the press conference, Bhatt did not comment on what action would be taken against the police at Thanagazi police station. However, he said the role of policemen in the delay regarding the lodging of an FIR and initiating action is being looked into. Later in the day, he issued orders to suspend the Thanagazi SHO.
Further investigations have revealed that the accused were demanding money from the victims in lieu of the assurance that they would not make the video clips viral. They had demanded ₹10,000 and settled at ₹9,000. The woman and her husband could not pay the money, so the accused made the video viral.
The BJP has been at the receiving end of Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot’s attacks regarding crimes against women and women’s security. With this turn of events, BJP politician and former home minister Gulab Chand Kataria has questioned the government’s intent and accused it of deliberately suppressing the issue. He threatened that the BJP would launch an agitation if the accused are not arrested immediately. The BJP also intends to send a high-level delegation to Thanagazi.
A spate of violent crimes against women has been making headlines in Rajasthan. Cases have been reported of minors being raped, acid thrown on two teachers, and of brides abducted while on their way to their marital homes. A case of a girl being abducted and gang raped has been registered today, May 7, in Bharatpur.
The incident is sure to spell political trouble for chief minister Ashok Gehlot. With elections over, the BJP is now all set to play the role of the Opposition and the Alwar gang rape case has landed it an opportunity.