On September 21, a 15-year-old minor Dalit girl who had gone to an adjoining field to procure some grass was gang-raped and filmed by three men in Ghosia village of Kaushambi district that falls under Saray Akil police station, near Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.
The accounts of the horrific incident which further emerged are bound to send a chill down one’s spine. The deplorable act was executed in broad daylight, was video recorded and circulated which eventually went viral on the internet.
The accused, Mohammad Adil alias Chhotka alias ‘Aatankwadi’, Mohammad Adik alias ‘Badka’, and Mohammad Nazim, are behind bars. They have been booked for gangrape and criminal intimidation and under the Scheduled Castes (SC) Atrocities Act and Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
Swati Goel Sharma, a journalist associated with Swarjaya Magazine went to the victim’s village to dig deeper into a gangrape that has sent shock waves across the country.
The victim belongs to the Pasi community, which though having the numbers yet remains marginalised in that area which is dominated by Muslims as they are considered the higher caste as they are rich and own property and agricultural land.
The victim, who sat in the house with her mother, with her face covered with a stole recounted the horrific incident. She said that the accused were strangers to her. She avoids going to the field alone but that day, she was running late and missed the other girls, she recounted.
I won’t upload even the audio of the crime. But have put out some details in my report.
On Oct 4 when I visited the area, the girl told me some horrific things
But rest assured, she is determined to move on, and plan to use the govt compensation money to resume studies pic.twitter.com/3L3T9xmKk6
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) October 5, 2019
“I was cutting grass using a sickle. These men came from behind and covered my mouth with hands. They threatened to kill me and forced themselves on me,” she said. When she pleaded them to leave her for Bhagawan’s (god’s) sake (“hamne kaha bhaiya bhagwan ke liye chhod do”), the men told her to plead in the name of Allah instead.
They, however, did not spare her even when she did.
The 2-minute-13-second video that went viral shows Geeta (name changed) pinned to the ground and a man, who has been identified as Mohammad Adil alias ‘Chhotka’ alias ‘Aatankwadi,’ holding her.
A man making the video, identified as Mohammad Nazim, isn’t visible but can be heard talking throughout.
“Allah ki kasam khaake main kehti hun, aisa mere saath mat karo bhaiya… (I swear in Allah’s name, don’t do this with me, brother),” victim is heard saying in the video.
“Tu galti kar rahi hai. Hum log nahi hote to kam se kam bees ladke ikattha hote aur tere baap ke paas le jaate…(You are making a mistake. Had we not been here, at least 20 men would have raped you and taken you to your father),” one of the men says.
“Aapki behan beti hai na, bas karo…(you have sisters and daughters, stop it),” Geeta says, and further pleads, “Bhaiya mere saath mat karo, ab to jao, aapke haath pair jodti hun (Brother, don’t do this with me. Go at least now, I fold my hands and beg you).”
“Allah ki kasam khaati hun… (I swear in Allah’s name),” she begins again.
Adil interrupts her and tells her he needs only two more minutes. The other man declares it’s his turn now. At this point, Geeta begins to scream. The video shifts and eventually stops.
Accused’s neighbour blames the victim’s community for the rape:
One of the accused’s neighbour named Nabiullah who agreed to speak about the incident, said it is the victim’s community’s fault she got raped. A tailor by profession and something of authority at a local mosque, he said that he knew all the three accused personally. He, however, but lied about their age stating it way lower than it actually is.
I must admit it was disheartening to see accused’s neighbours pinning the blame on girl and her community instead
Despite clear video evidence
This is Nabiullah who said he knows all 3 men v well, but lied about their age. Chhotka, Badka aren’t 18, 20 but 27, 28. Nizam is 20 pic.twitter.com/ZYAe5Wn3uk
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) October 5, 2019
The neighbour said that Nazim and Badka are ‘innocent’ who have been wrongly framed. Insisting that they were trapped, Nabiullah went on the audaciously defend the incident by calling the gangrape an act of “naadani”- that is, silliness- and blamed the Pasi community for trapping the men. “Ye hua hai unki badtameezi se, wo Pasi log (it has happened because of bad behaviour by Pasis),” he said.
He furthered blamed the victim and said that it was the girl who called them to the spot. “If the girl didn’t call them, why had they gone?” he asks.
On being asked whether he was suggesting that the men did no wrong, Nabiullah said: “No, they have indeed done wrong. Just that they could not understand.”
The police’s apathy in handling the case:
Major lapses on the police’s part had also come to the fore. The station house officer (SHO) of Sakai Akil police station, Manish Pandey, has been suspended. Action has also been taken against two constables, Ramnath Yadav and Dilip Gupta, and they have been sent to district lines.
As recounted by the victim’s family, after one of the accused, accused Nazim was caught and thrashed by the villagers and taken to the Sarai Akil police station around 12 pm, SHO Pandey present at the police station, refused to hear them and instead made Nazim and the girl’s father sit in a room.
According to the victim’s mother, Nazim was made to sit on a chair while the victim’s father on the floor. The victim’s father was also allegedly beaten up by the police. It is believed that the rape video was shared before the phone was given to the police for custody.
Villagers recollect that after seeing the police’s callousness, they even approached the chairman of Sarai Akil Nagar Panchayat and proceeded to meet Sanjay Gupta at his Janata durbar, but to no avail. They then approached an activist couple who led the villagers to the police station at around 4 pm by which time SP Gupta had arrived.
He proceeded to visit the site of the crime and ordered the girl to be sent for medical examination. The first information report (FIR) was registered around 9.30 pm — more than nine hours after the crime. Victim’s parents, the activists and other villagers allege that SHO Pandey tried to cover up the case after taking bribe from the accused’s side.
However, according to Swarajya report, a local journalist gives a different explanation. He said that he was informed that a man was thrashed on suspicion of being a child-lifter. When he reached the police station, like many other journalists, he also assumed that Nazim was innocent and the victim’s father was one of the child-lifters or attackers. “It was quite later in the day that Pandey informed us that it was actually a case of gangrape,” says Dheeraj Pathak, 21, who is a Sarai Akik-based stringer for various news publications and channels.
While Nazim was caught red-handed by the villagers, the other two accused had managed to flee. A special investigation team (SIT) was formed and five teams began searching for the absconding accused. A prize of Rs 25,000 was announced on them. The police decided to invoke the National Security Act against the accused.
On September 25, Mohammad Adil was arrested after an encounter with the police in which he got shot in both legs. The police recovered a revolver and a motorcycle from him. Two days later, the third accused, Akib, was arrested too.