— Write to the NHRC, stand up for the Dalit women of Naraina
(With inputs from Karthik Navayan and R.Ravi Kumar of the National Dalit Forum)
On 9th December, 2011, around 9 in the morning, Manju Devi of Naraina village, Khagaria district, Bihar, received word that some upper caste men had encroached upon her farm and were destroying the crop ready for harvest by running a tractor through it. At around 10 a.m., Manju Devi, along with five of her neighbours, reached the farm and was immediately surrounded by Sanoj Singh and around 9-10 other upper caste men, armed with lathis and .303 rifles.
‘Kill the Musahars’
As soon as they arrived, the upper caste men started abusing them and Sanoj Singh shouted ‘Kill the musahar harijans‘. Then he along with Anoj Singh and Dharmendra Singh started hitting Manju Devi ruthlessly with lathis. When Manju Devi, grievously injured, fell down on the ground, Manoj Singh snatched the gold ear-rings from her ears and spat on her face.
Dulari Devi who had rushed to help Manju Devi was attacked by Anoj Singh, Pramod Singh and Vakil Singh who rained lathi blows on her head. So brutal was the attack that both of Dulari Devi’s arms were broken when she raised her hands to cover her head, trying to defend herself. The other women who had come to Dulari Devi’s aid were also beaten severely with lathis, fists and rifle butts, leaving them all seriously wounded.
Sexual abuse and disrobing
In the course of the attack, Manoj Singh and Anoj Singh also tried to molest Pabiya Devi and Paro Devi, ripped apart their sarees and blouses, and paraded them half naked. Sattan Sada, Manju Devi’s husband who had tried to defend the women was threatened with a gun pointed at his forehead, and the Rs.10,000 that he carried on him (for buying fertilizer) was also snatched from him by Sanoj Singh.
Next, when Sanoj Singh started discussing with his brothers his plans to shoot and kill Sattan Sada, the latter pushed his assailants away and ran from the scene. Sanoj Singh and his associates fired several rounds at the fleeing Sattan Sada but, fortunately, none of them hit him.
Harassment and threats of further violence
The injured women somehow reached the Govt hospital at Khagaria for treatment. But ever since the violent assault of 9th December, they have been receiving threats of various kinds from the assailants. The victims had managed to file a complaint with the police, and an FIR was registered under relevant sections of the IPC and provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. Over the last three weeks, the assailants have been trying to pressurize the victims to withdraw the complaint, threatening to even kill the victims and their kin if they failed to do, or burn their homes and cause havoc in the village.
The victims have been living in a constant state of fear and are also afraid that the assailants, who are wealthy and enjoy a higher social status, would use their influence to somehow ‘manage’ the whole legal process and deny the victims justice.
Protest this injustice, Write to the National Human Rights Commission
The media, except for some limited coverage in the local newspapers, has been very silent on the issue. Not even a whiff of this horrifying incident can be found in the ‘national’ print or electronic media. Even the bare details recounted in this note have been culled from a complaint filed with the Khagaria unit of a Dalit rights organization called “Dalit Adhikar Manch’.
Nearly a month after the incident, none of the accused has been arrested, nor any inquiry initiated. The assailants still enjoy all liberties, free to intimidate, pressurize and even use further violence to silence the already frightened victims.
Please protest this outrage. Write to the National Human Rights Commission to take notice of this atrocity and direct the local police to start an inquiry, arrest the accused and direct the Bihar government to provide succour to the victims.
Please go to this page on Karthik Navayan’s site, copy the letter to the NHRC as suggested, inserting your name etc, and send it to the NHRC. Stand up for the Dalit women of Naraina.