In what appears an attempt to shield the culprits, police changed the complaint of a Dalit family in Begusarai district in Bihar. According to a report by Swarajya journalist Swati Goel Sharma, the Dalit family (mother, a daughter and a son) that lives in the refinery area of Barauni Tehsil’s Nurpur village, had lodged a complaint at the Barauni outpost police station after three men barged into their home on the intervening night of June 10 and 11 and allegedly tried to sexually assault the women (the mother and the daughter) and thrashed the son. The family had submitted a written complaint in the case as no police officer was present in the police station. One of the culprits has been identified by the family as their neighbour Laddu Alam son of Feroze Alam.
Sections 447 (trespass), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 354A (making sexually coloured remarks) and 354B (assault or use of criminal force with the intent to disrobe) were applied among others but the Prevention of Atrocities against SCs and STs Act (SC/ST Act) was not applied.
The following day, the daughter told the Swarajya that she complained to the senior police officers who had come to meet the family, including Deputy SP Ranjan Sinha, that her complaint was distorted by the police the previous night to dilute the charges. She said that she wanted to register a fresh complaint.
Deputy SP Sinha allowed her to file another complaint and directed Suchit Kumar, the Station House Officer (SHO) of Barauni station to proceed on the new complaint. However, to the shock of the family, SHO Kumar ignored the directions given by Deputy SP Sinha and filed the FIR based on the original complaint.
The family conveyed their grievance to the senior officials after which an inquiry was conducted under the circle officer. According to Awakash Kumar, SP Begusarai, serious lapse was found in the inquiry on the part of the SHO. On being found guilty, the SHO was suspended.
Based on the initial probe the police claimed that several allegations of the Dalit family including that of rape and attempt to rape have not been found to be true and that the matter is of a land dispute.
However, the mother refused the land dispute angle. The family alleged that the Muslims in the area have been pressurising the family to sell off their home for 16 lakhs, the same amount for which they bought the house of a neighbouring Hindu family, and leave the area. The Muslims had allegedly threatened the family that even the Bajrang Dal would not be able to help them. The area in which the family lives is a Muslim majority area with around 74 percent Muslims.
The family had submitted a letter of complaint to the SHO at Barauni police station last month after Firoze Alam along with his two sons including Laddu Alam attacked the family when some water spilt into the house of Alam. Worried about the safety of his family, the family’s elder son who works in Dubai had written a letter to the Indian Embassy on June 12 requesting the protection for his family.
On June 13, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) stepped in and sent a notice to Begusarai District Magistrate and SP informing that the Commission has taken suo moto cognisance of the case. The Commission has demanded the details of the FIRs, sections of the SC/ST Act applied, medical examination of the women, arrests in the case, copy of statements under sections 161 and 164 of the CrPC and the security and the monetary aid provided to the family.