Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Modi government's assault on democratic rights: Bhagana rape survivors & protestors evicted from Jantar Mantar by Delhi Police //Sexual assault of protesters by police personnel of Parliament Street PS on June 4, 2014

NB - The RSS/BJP/ Modi government has shown its teeth soon, and that also to women. Does it wish to announce that it is sympathetic to hooligans and rapists and corrupt policemen? That it will crush all democratic protest, even of rape survivors? Women will be in the forefront of the defence of Indian democracy. Thus far, the media is silent - let us make them wake up. Eye-witnesses report that the police themselves molested women protestors todayAll who care for human freedom and the right to protest should resist this tyranny - DS

Dear friends from Press and Public , 

At morning 6 am today (Wednesday, 4th June 2014), nearly one thousand policemen came to Jantar Mantar and forcibly removed the Bhagana survivors' and other tents and warned the protesters to vacate the Jantar Mantar by 12 noon

At Hissar mini secretariat too, Bhagana's Dalit families were evicted in the same manner. At both the places the police took away these refugees' belongings too. Small children and the victim girls are forced to stay on the open street, where too police is not letting them live.

Jantar Mantar is a place where people have been protesting since years and all survivors of exploitation and repression find a voice here with other survivor and solidarity groups and Delhi public.  

We all are gathering at Parliament Street police station at 2pm ( just after a while) to protest this brutal move of Delhi and Hisar police. 

We urge all  citizens, progressive groups in Delhi to come at the Parliament Street, at Jantar Mantar and where ever you are, put this information on your face book, twitter and other media platforms. Forward this mail. Write protest letter/ mail to Police Commissioner, Delhi and SSP, Hisar ( please see net for their phone number and mailing addresses), send sms to them condemning and asking them on what  ground they have taken this eviction step.  

Friends/Comrades, the atrocities on Dalits are increasing day by day and the democratic space for our struggle is decreasing fast. Let us get together and act.

In Solidarity,
Kiran Shaheen
(On behalf of women's and other democratic groups in Delhi)

Sexual assault of women protesters by police personnel of Parliament Street PS on June 4, 2014

4 June 2014
The Commissioner of Police, Delhi

Subject: Sexual assault on women protestors by personnel of Parliament Street police station

We are writing to demand your immediate action against police personnel of the Parliament Street Police Station who were involved in assaulting and brutalising a peaceful group of protestors today.

The facts are as follows.
A group of people belonging to the Dalit community from Bhagana village, Haryana, have been sitting in a peaceful dharna at Jantar Mantar for the last one month, in pursuit of their demand for justice in the case of abduction and gang rape of four minor girls. Early this morning, a large force of policemen appeared at Jantar Mantar and tried to evict the protestors who were sleeping there. pulled down their tent and scattered their belongings.

The Bhagana protestors (including the families of the rape survivors and the girls themselves) went to the Parliament Street
Police Station this afternoon at about 1400 hours, in order to present a memorandum to the officer in charge asking to be allowed to stay in Jantar Mantar since they had nowhere else to go.

The Bhagana group was accompanied by representatives of women's organisations, Dalit organisations and students' organisations. The mothers of two of the rape survivors were leading the group. The group was stopped by some policemen at the barricade outside the thana. Their request to be allowed to go inside and meet the officer in charge was denied. Some policemen on duty at the barricade spoke to the Bhagana group in Haryanvi and asked them to go back and not to make trouble. The women argued with these policemen, insisting on being allowed to go and meet the officer in charge.

While the argument was going on, some policemen started pushing the group back from the barricade, using undue force and targeting the women by grabbing their private parts and pushing their hands into the anal region. The mothers of the survivors and several women activists (including Adv Pyoli Swatija of Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Ms Sumedha Baudh of Rashtiya Dalit Mahila Andolan and Ms Rakhi - of NTUI) were attacked in this manner.

At this point a senior police officer (in uniform but without a name badge) came out and shouted out - "Are ye aise nahi manenge - lathi ghusao"

At this, some 4-5 women police charged forward and attacked the women by thrusting at their private parts with batons. The women who were in the front resisted this attack and struggled with the police women. Several policemen were also in the melee and were physically attacking women protestors. Several activists were taken into custody and held for more than  an hour, after which they were released without any charge being made against them.

None of the police had name badges except one police woman (Suman D) who removed it after a few minutes. However, we are confident that we can identify most if not all the attackers by face  including the officer who gave the order for the sexual attack. You are surely aware that the acts committed by the policemen and women are criminal offences under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.

We demand that the concerned police personnel (including the officer who gave the order for sexual assault) be immediately suspended from service and charged under the relevant sections. An FIR should be filed and an enquiry instituted without delay.

We are shocked to see that the police personnel under your command seem to have forgotten the bitter lessons of December 2012, and are blatantly ignoring and violating citizens' rights of peaceful assembly and democratic protest.

We are told that much time and resources have been invested in training the rank and file of Delhi police in "gender-sensitive policing". Our suggestion to you is: please do not waste any more of the taxpayers' money on these futile public relations exercises. Instead, please take strong, immediate and exemplary action against personnel accused of such crimes.

We look forward to a response from you. We will be happy to come and present you with evidence in support of our complaint.


On behalf of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression

 The rape and murder of the two teenage girls in Uttar Pradesh's Badaun district last Wednesday sent shockwaves across the country, and also threw into focus four rape survivors from Bhagana village in Hisar, Haryana, who have been protesting at Jantar Mantar in the national capital since April 16. Bhagana is some 170km from New Delhi. 

The survivors, aged between 13 and 18 years, belong to the landless Dhanuk sub-caste, and worked for upper caste landowners. Villagers say the khap panchayat had imposed a social boycott against the caste group, forcing about 250 families to leave their homes and flee the village.  The displaced villagers say atrocities against them began over a 280-acre piece of common village land two years ago, which the Jats tried to usurp with the help of local authorities and the khap. 

According to the rape survivors, on March 23, they went to a field to relieve themselves in the evening, a routine the families follow in the absence of toilets in their homes. Five Jat men drugged them and forced them into a car. The girls were found the next day at Bathinda railway station in Punjab, some 160 km from their village. The youngest survivor, a 13-year-old, says she remembers a strong-smelling handkerchief being thrust on her face. Her next memory of that time is waking at the station with bruises and torn clothes. She says she also recalls the weight of the bodies of the men, on her. The four sit silently with their parents and members of their caste group, hiding their faces with scarves. 

Father of one of the survivors said he worked with his entire family of four in the farm belonging to the village sarpanch, for a sum of Rs 50,000 a year. On March 23, when the girls did not return till late evening, a frantic search began. Villagers approached the sarpanch, who assured them that the girls would soon be found. The next morning, villagers said, the sarpanch, with two of his relatives, drove them to Batinda in Punjab. "He told us to stay in the car. The three of them went into the station. Half an hour later, they emerged with the girls, who were in shock, hiding their faces. Later, the girls told us that he had threatened them and told them not to reveal anything to anyone. But the girls named all the accused. Next morning we went the police station and filed an FIR. The girls were sent to the hospital for tests, they were made to wait for 8-9 hours," the father said. In 2012, the khap panchayat had called for a social boycott of 130 Dalit families at Bhagana village, over the land dispute. Following the rape of the girls in March, 90 more families have fled the village. "Rape is a weapon for revenge, suppression and humiliation against the lower caste. The police and administration belong to Jats in Haryana. We are treated like cattle," said Jagdish Kajla, a member of the Bhagana Kand Sangharsh Samiti, which is spearheading the fight for justice to the four girls. 

In last two months, the villagers have made representations to the Haryana CM, Bhupinder Hooda, National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women and the SC/ST Commission, but have got no reprieve. Five people have been arrested so far in this case.  Protestors demand that an FIR be lodged against the sarpanch and his relatives, and compensation be granted to the victims and their families, to enable the rehabilitation of Dalit families. Virender Singh Baghodia of the Bhagana Kand Sangharsh Samiti said, "The Jat sarpanch knew about the gang rape, but the police is scared to touch Jats. For us, the government and the khap are just the same."