Muzaffarnagar: When a 21-year-old gangrape victim was found dead in Muzaffarnagar’s Badhiwala village on 5 October, there were four names on her hand — that of her maternal uncle, her maternal aunt, her father’s uncle and the uncle’s daughter-in-law.
The woman had been through an ordeal — justice had eluded her for four years. She had been raped by three boys of her village in August 2015, but despite the accused having been booked under the stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, they are out on bail.
Her father told ThePrint that if that wasn’t enough, the four relatives she allegedly named had traumatised her sexually and mentally, pushing her to kill herself.
The girl allegedly committed suicide on 5 October.
Police at the Chhapar police station, located some 10 km from the village, have now booked the four named by the girl under Section 306 (abetment to suicide) of the IPC.
All the four accused are absconding.
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Gangrape and an ordeal
The girl’s father told ThePrint that her troubles began when she was heading home to her village, some 17 km from Muzaffarnagar town, on 28 August 2015. “That day she was returning from the nearby village of Rohana. The three boys from our village raped her before she could reach home,” the father said. “The house of the main accused is just 100 yards from ours. A case was registered in Muzaffarnagar police station under POCSO Act.”
The father said the family could only attend 10 hearings in the case before they gave up.
He said her troubles only intensified after the family had sent her away from the village in a bid to protect her.
“After the incident, she was depressed all the time; so, we decided to send her and her mother to her maternal uncle’s home in Meerut,” he said.
It only led to further trouble as her uncle allegedly preyed on her.
“Her maternal uncle knew about the gangrape incident and taking advantage of this, he also raped her,” he said. “Her mother saw the uncle coming out of her room in an objectionable state and she slapped him four-five times. She immediately returned to Muzaffarnagar with our daughter.”
The father says that the family initially attempted to broker a compromise a week after the mother found out. “We had taken a loan of Rs 10,000 from him. We had to marry off two of our other daughters. Due to all this, we thought it would be better to settle the matter,” the father said. “The girl’s maternal aunt also put huge pressure on us to settle the case mutually. My daughter though was quite distressed by all this.”
The father aid the uncle then resorted to “spreading rumours” about his daughter. “Within a year, we paid off the entire debt to the uncle. But he continued to malign my daughter’s character and spread a rumour that we had cut a deal of Rs 50,000 to sell her,” he said. “Following this, we went to the Meerut police to lodge an FIR for rape. The police did not register any FIR but we have the written complaint lodged at that time and it also bears the stamp of police station.”
“After that, our daughter became agitated by the fact that we sought a truce with her mama,” he added.
Return to village didn’t help
The young woman was from a family of seven. Apart from her parents, she had two brothers and two sisters. While her sisters are now married, the father said he was attempting to get her married when trouble began with her maternal uncle.
She quit her studies after the turmoil and stayed at home as the family was unable to financially support her education. The father owns a small grocery shop while her oldest brother works as a JCB (earthmover) operator. The family owns a few buffaloes to help supplement their income.
The father’s uncle also lives with his family in the same village.
The father alleged that his uncle had an affair with his own daughter-in-law and the victim had once seen them in a compromising position, which only made things worse for her.
“That day she had gone to fetch a spade from their house. Since then, my uncle and his daughter-in-law often verbally abused my daughter and threatened to kill her,” he said. “They used to regularly indulge in her character assassination and taunted her on a daily basis. Soon the situation became too difficult for my daughter to bear.”
The father said he could do little as he had borrowed Rs 70,000 from his uncle four years ago. “After paying off the interest and parts of the initial loan, I had to still pay Rs 17,100,” he said.
“She was observing Navratra fast on that day,” said the girl’s grieving mother recalling the day she ended her life. Sitting in the shed where the girl had hanged herself, the mother added, “After completing her morning chores she prepared tea for us. We sipped the tea together and then I went to the fields for work. When I returned home at around 12 noon, I found her hanging.”
“My voice was choked and not a single tear was coming out. My heart was about to burst out. I managed to reach my house after falling thrice or more to cover this small distance. After that her father arrived,” she added.
The father’s uncle’s family, however, told ThePrint that he was being framed. “The girl’s father has usurped over Rs 2 lakh from us. This is why he has wrongly framed us,” said a relative. “He has himself killed his daughter in order of avoid payments to other relatives.”
While the police are treating the case as a suicide following the post-mortem report, they are in the process of matching the writing on the victim’s hand with her original handwriting.
“This family never came to us to lodge any kind of complaint for rape,” Chhapar SHO H.N. Singh told ThePrint. “Now, after the girl’s suicide, a case has been lodged under Section 306. We will investigate this case from all possible angles.”
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