Jaipur: As one approaches the trauma ward of the Sawai Man Singh hospital in Jaipur, where the 35-year-old Dalit woman who alleged that she was gangraped by several policemen in Rajasthan’s Churu district is admitted, her husband, resting on an iron bench adjacent to her bed, immediately calls for other family relatives and locals from their village who have come along to the hospital to reach the ward and enquire after the visitor.
The family is making sure that no person who could intimidate her about the possible consequences of speaking up against the police gets to speak with her. “Just yesterday, a middle-aged man identifying himself as a journalist demanded to speak to her and later when we asked for his press card, he couldn’t present one. Such is the situation,” said one of her relatives.
The husband claimed there is a lot of pressure from the MLA of the ruling party from their district and the police. “We don’t sleep at night or during the day just to ensure that no one pressurises her into withdrawing her allegations.”
At night, Dharampal Kataria, associated with the Bharat Rakshak Party (Democratic), and his men stay in the hospital to keep an eye on the woman and her family members.
The family doesn’t trust the medical officer who is entrusted with sending the woman’s medical examination report to the police. “It’s a government hospital and the staff will do what they would be asked to do. We really have no hope from them,” said another brother-in-law of the woman.
The woman, with her face veiled, recollects the incident. “There was no lady constable with me at the station. The policemen tortured me and badly thrashed my brother-in-law and me for hours. Later, they hanged him in the station in front of me. As I resisted, about 7-8 policemen along with the station house officer stripped and raped me one by one” the woman told The Wire.
“Later, they took my thumb impression on a blank document and burnt his [the brother-in-law’s] body at night.”
In her complaint to the chief minister, she named eight policemen – Ram Pratap Godhara, Hemraj, Virendra Kumar, Kailash, Jankesh, Krishna, Mahesh and Sachin – of the Sardarshahar police station in Churu, who she said plucked her nails, hurt her eyes and later raped her. She has specifically mentioned that the SHO, Ranvir Singh, initiated the criminal act. She said the policemen also abused her while they were raping her.
Her husband has claimed that the police has tampered with the post mortem report of his brother. “He had at least 35 injuries on his body, still, the report says that the cause of death was a heart attack.”
The family claim that the Churu police have been actively involved in staging false theft cases to extract gold from jewellers and that the woman and her brother-in-law were the recent targets of the police.
“The police, under the patronage of the local MLAs of the Congress party, take innocent lower caste poor people into their custody and bully them into accepting that they have sold the stolen gold to some jeweller. Then, they blackmail that particular jeweller to settle the case in exchange for a bribe of gold,” Danaram, a local from Churu who is staying with the family of the woman in Jaipur, told The Wire.
Responding to Congress Sardarsahar MLA Bhawarlal Sharma’s claim that the gangrape allegation is false, the family said, “He [Congress MLA Bhawarlal Sharma] is himself associated with the police in blackmailing the jewellers to earn money. Why would he support us?”
The family has also alleged that the accused station house officer Ranvir Singh in the past was involved in the murder of a Dalit boy who was going to marry a Jat girl. “When Singh was posted as the SHO in Hanumangarh district, he took into custody a Dalit boy and beat him to death for trying to marry a Jat girl. He easily got away with the murder by altering the post mortem report,” alleged Danaram.
Despite the family’s attempt to lodge an FIR for the murder of the woman’s brother-in-law, the police haven’t filed an one in the case. “The police doesn’t listen to us and we don’t believe we would ever attain justice if the case remains in their hands. We want a CBI inquiry into the issue,” said the husband.
Meanwhile, the police are expecting the woman’s statement to be submitted by Saturday. “The doctors have informed us that the woman is stable now and we can record her statement,” Seema Bharti, investigative officer in the case, Crime Investigation Department, told The Wire.