Are we living in our own state? Are we safe in this country?
Today in the morning, at my desk in the office of the internship agency where I work, I wrote the brief story of an atrocity on a nineteen year old (SC) girl who was raped by two Maratha boys of her village. Before examining such incidences, the reality of atrocities in the villages of Maharashtra was just another story or tale for me, a story or a tale which we hear from distances, from second-hand sources and, further, leave it to die in the mind. The narratives of the victims on paper have something chilling in it; it moved me to blankness before I was able to read further. The essence of the victim’s narrative was such that one could hardly avoid the misery of her social settings; the vulnerability was evident through her accounts of how they live. Now that I am seeing the face of my country more closely, I feel more gloomy and insecure about its future. I see the air around me as hostile. And how could I avoid the questions which I always ask myself: are we living in our own state? Are we safe in this country?
Case history in brief
Chandrama’s family lives in Barad, in Beed district, Maharashtra. It is rarely spoken of and largely unknown to much of the Indian population, and even within the metropolitan cities of the state, but Maharashtra is an atrocities prone area. According to the NCRB (National Crime Record Bureau), from 1994 to 2003, atrocities against Scheduled Castes (SC) in Maharashtra outnumbered the list of criminal cases. And according to a study conducted by the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies (Delhi) during 1990’s, the ‘Marathwada’ region of Maharashtra, which comprises Beed district, recorded ‘high incidences of caste bondage and previous records of atrocities against Dalits‘. Unfortunately, its criminal glory, according to NCRB’s 2012 data, shows a record of 1091 cases of crime against SC in Maharashtra alone. Chandrama’s case is one among them.
Chandrama was 19 years old and studying in ‘Renuka Nursing Home’ Beed in 2012. She has four sisters, two of whom are married, and two brothers. Her father and mother were feeding them by engaging in labour work. They belonged to the ‘Mang’ caste, a ‘Scheduled Caste’, a very vulnerable group, especially in the context of atrocities. On 20th February 2012, on the occasion of Mahashivratri, Chandrama along with her sister Babynanda went to attend a religious procession at Pimpri, a place near Kaij. Further, Chandrama’s brother-in-law Mohan B. Kamble – who is married Chandrama’s sister Tilottma – arrived to meet them at Pimpri as he got to know from Tilottma on mobile phone that Chandrama and Babynanda were already there. Tilottma had come to her parent’s home in Barad, Kaij, for Mahashivratri festival. She had told Mohan to go straightway to Pimpri, to meet her sisters, and she would join them at Pimpri, which she did by 2.30 pm.
After they got together at Pimpri by 2.30 pm, they paid a visit to the temple and went for walk later. After shopping on the way, Mohan’s entire money had been spent. He had only enough money to travel to his wife’s house in Barad. Therefore he suggested that the gold ring in his ear would fetch some money if sold. Subsequently he gave his gold ring to Chandrama and asked her to go to Kaij and sell it to a goldsmith. And he, his wife Tilottma and sister-in-law Babynanda left for his in-laws’ house in Barad.
As the gold ring had no receipt or acknowledgement, goldsmith refused to purchase it. Chandrama had no option but to return to her home by 6 in the evening. She only had money to reach to Marasajog, so she reached Marasajog and decided to walk the remaining distance. By that time her mobile phone’s battery had also got discharged. At this place both the accused, Balasaheb Dhakane and Aatmaram Munde (aged 22 and 23 respectively) along with four passengers in their Maruti Jeep MH23-J 653, came and stopped their Jeep in front of Chandrama. They invited to drop her at her home. Chandrama, with no money and helpless without any means of transport to reach home in the night, sat on the back seat of the Jeep. They drove the Jeep to Pimpri and dropped four passengers. From there, they headed up to Lavhari.
In the middle of the drive, they stopped the Jeep on a rutted road and Balasaheb asked Chandrama to come and sit on the middle seat. Balasaheb too came and sat beside her there and started to get physical with her by force, while Aatmaram who was at the driving seat, left his position. Meanwhile Balasaheb has started to rape her. When, afterwards, she tried to come out of the Jeep, Balasaheb pushed her inside again and this time Aatmaram raped her. Later both threatened to kill her if she informed anyone about the incidence; later, they dropped her again at Pimpri Phata and left. This wasn’t end the either.
When she filed the FIR, she was asked to undergo medical examination to confirm the incidence was of rape. Along with Maharashtra police employee Tandle, and home guard Asha Chate, she was sent to ‘SRTR’ hospital in Ambejogai Taluka in Beed. Chandrama was accompanied by her elder sister Pratibha. Here the home guard Asha Chate started to harass her verbally, pressurising her by constantly blaming Chandrama for the rape, and cursing and advising her to commit suicide. Under the constant pressure she became demoralised deeply and felt like committing suicide. On 24th February 2012, she swallowed 9 to 10 tablets at 11 am when her parent were not at home. By the night, she started vomitting and her head was aching. When her sister about what had happened, she narrated the morning incidence. Her brother-in-law and sister Pratibha, with presence of mind, took her to the nearby Rural Hospital. Thus she was saved, with the lifelong wound which, perhaps, would not be healed.
My name is Yogesh Maitreya. I am from Nagpur. I am doing my M.A in Criminology and Justice (2013-15) from TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai).