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Friday, November 23, 2012

We will rebuild worlds....


Once impaled for our faith
and trained to speak in voiceless whispers
we’ll implore
you to produce the list
from hallowed memories
of our people disgraced
as outcastes
degraded
as untouchable at
sixty-four feet
denied a life
and livelihood and done to death
In so many ways it would take
an encyclopedia to describe and steven-spielberg
or some-such-guy to produce the special effects for a blockbuster version
not just the stories of how
you charred to death forty-four of our men and women and children
because they asked for handfuls of rice
electrocuted children to instant death because they played in your well
and other ghastly carnages
But the crimes of passion
our passion
your crimes
poured poison and pesticide through the ears-nose-mouth
or hanged them in public
because a man and a woman dared to love
and you wanted
to teach
other boys and other girls
the lessons of
how to
whom to
when to
where to
continue their caste lines
And we will refresh your mind with other histories
of how you brutally murdered and massacred our peoples
with the smiling promise of
heaven in the next birth
and in this
a peace that
never belonged.
We will wipe away the
sham of your smiles
that appear and
disappear like commercials on prime time tv
smiles that flash across
botoxed faces
smiles that crease
plucked eyebrows
smiles that are pasted and
plastered to your lips
smiles that sell yourself
smiles that seek to
sell us into soulless worlds.
We will sing the many skins you wear to the world
the skins you change at work
the skins called castes and
skins called race
the skins you mend once a week
the skin you bought at a sale
the skin you thought was yours
the filthy rich stinking skin you thought you could retain at bed.
Shorn of style
and a hypocrisy named
sophistication
there would be nothing for you to do but gape at our combat gears.
We will learn
how to fight
with the substantial spontaneity
with which we first learnt
how to love.
So
now
upon a future time
there will be a revolution.
It will begin in our red-hot dreams that surge that
scorch that
scald that sizzle like lava
but never settle down never
pungently solidify.
It will begin
when the song in the sway
of our hips
will lead us to dance and sing
and stand up straight
put up a pretty fight
redeem and reclaim
the essence of our earth.
It will begin
as our naked bodies
held close together
like hands in prayer
against each other
like hands in prayer
set to defy the dares the
diktats the years the terms
the threats
that set us apart.
It will begin
as we give names to our children and
give names to our
inward anger and aches and
name ourselves
with words of fury
like forest fires
with the words of wrath
like stealthy wildcat eyes
that scare the cowards
in power
away.
It will begin
the way thunder rises in our throats and
we will brandish our slogans with a stormy stress and succeed
to chronicle to
convey the last stories
of our lost and scattered lives.
It will begin
when the oppressors will wince
every time they hear our voices and their sparkly silence will never be taken for a sacrament.
It will begin when never
resting we will scream
until
our uvulas tear away and
our breathless words
breathe life to the bleeding dead and in the black magic of
our momentary silences
you will hear two questions
India, what is the caste of sperm?
India, what is the cost of life?
and the rest of our words will rush
in this silenced earth
like the rage of a river in first flood.
It will begin
that day when
we will pay
all that it takes
for the dangerous price of love.
Meena Kandasamy

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A poem of Ratanbai- one of less known medieval period's gujarati poet





RATANBAI
(12th-14th century)

Ratanbai was a Gujarati bhakti poet of medieval  period.Unlike Meerabai (1498-1565) she did not belongs to royal background rather, she made her living at the spinning wheel. A rare example of our own feminist heritage...
My spinning wheel is dear to me, My sister

My spinning wheel is dear to me, my sister;
My household depends on it.
My husband married me and departed;
He went abroad to earn a living.

After twelve years he returned,
With a copper coin and a half;
He went to bathe in the Ganga,
Dropped the copper coin and a half.

Mother, father, father-in-law, mother-in-law,
One and all rejected us;
The spinning wheel was our savior,
To it we clung.

I paid off all my husband's debts
And over and above
Tying coin after coin in the corner of my sari
I earned a whole rupee.

Translated by Nita Ramaiya

Thursday, November 8, 2012

नारी मुक्ति का सवालः मार्क्सवाद के परिप्रेक्ष्य में- का. विनोद मिश्र


(प्रस्तुत लेख भाकपा-माले (लिबरेशन) के तत्कालीन महासचिव का. विनोद मिश्र ने तकरीबन १८-१९ साल पहले आधी जमीन, अप्रैल-जून 1993 के अंक में लिखा था. महिला मुक्ति के व्यापक आयामों पर बात करता यह लेख अपनी मूल प्रस्थापना के साथ आज की बदली हुई परिस्थिति की भी समाझ विकसित करने में पर्याप्त मददगार है. हांलांकि यह बात सच है कि उस समय जो एक 'नए दौर ' की आस जगी थी वो समय बीतने के साथ अपने विकृततम रूप में सामने आती गयी और ये नई हकीकतें नई व्याख्याओं की मांग भी करती हैं , पर संघर्षों कि दिशा दुरुस्त रखने के लिए यह आलेख बेहद जरूरी है.)
                                                                                             
नारी मुक्ति आज भी करीब-करीब सारी दुनिया के नारी समाज का नारा है। इसका मतलब हुआ कि मानवता का आधा हिस्सा आज भी पराधीन है। हम सर्वहारा की मुक्ति की बात करते हैं,किसानों की मुक्ति की बात करते हैं, राष्ट्रों की मुक्ति की बात करते हैं। राष्ट्रों की मुक्ति से हमारा मतलब उपनिवेशवादी, नवउपनिवेशवादी ताकतों के आर्थिक-राजनीतिक शिकंजे से मुक्ति होता है। दुनिया के बहुत से राष्ट्र मुक्त हैं और बाकी में मुक्ति की लड़ाई चल रही है। किसानों की मुक्ति से हमारा मतलब सामंती जकड़नों से मुक्ति होता है। दुनिया के बहुत से देशों के किसान मुक्ति हासिल कर चुके हैं और अन्य स्थानों पर भी वे संघर्षरत हैं।सर्वहारा मुक्ति से हमारा मतलब उजरती श्रम से मुक्ति होता है। सर्वहारा ने भी कई देशों में अपनी लड़ाईयां जीती थीं या जीती हैं। महिलाएं राष्ट्र का , किसानों का , सर्वहारा का हिस्सा हैं। इसलिए इन सारे मुक्ति संघर्षों में वे इस या उस हद तक हिस्सेदार हैं। लेकिन इस सबके बाद भी नारी मुक्ति संघर्ष की अपनी विषेषताएं हैं, अपनी स्वायत्तता है।

नारी मुक्ति का सवाल जब उठता है तो यह स्वतः स्पष्ट हो जाता है कि नारी पराधीन है, गुलाम है। वर्तमान सामाजिक व्यवस्था का रेशा-रेशा पुरूषों द्वारा पुरूषों के लिए निर्मित है।पुरूषों द्वारा नारी पर थोपी हुई गुलामी का ठोस रूप है घर की चारदीवारी में नारी को कैद रखना और उसे संतान उत्पत्ति की मशीन समझना। सर्वहारा , किसान या राष्ट्र जहां अपनी मुक्ति अपने विरोधी तत्व का नाश करके ही अर्जित कर सकते हैं ,वहीं नारी मुक्ति पुरूषों के विनाश के जरिए नहीं बल्कि नारी-पुरूष के बीच समानता के मानवीय संबंधों को स्थापित करने के जरिए ही हासिल हो सकती है।

कहते हैं एक समय ऐसा था जब नारी के घर के कामों का महत्व ज्यादा था, जब समाज मातृसत्तात्मक समाज के रूप में जाना जाता था, इस समाज में वर्ग विभाजन नहीं था, व्यक्तिगत संपत्ति नहीं थी। खेतों में लोहे के औजार का प्रचलन जब शुरू हुआ तब अतिरिक्त श्रम के लिए मनुष्य के एक हिस्से ने दूसरे हिस्से को दास, यानी सर्वहारा बनाया। समाज वर्गों में बंट गया, व्यक्तिगत संपत्ति का जन्म हुआ और यहीं से पुरूष सत्ता का भी विकास हुआ। घर की मालकिन की सामाजिक मर्यादा गिरती गई। सर्वहारा की गुलामी और नारी की गुलामी एक ही समय और एक ही तरह के  कारणों से शुरू हुई। इन दोनों पीडि़तों के संघर्षों के बीच शायद इसलिए एक स्वाभाविक समानता है। नारी अगर सबसे ज्यादा मुक्त रही भी है तो सर्वहारा परिवारों में।
नारी से गुलामी मनवाने के लिए पुरूषों ने कितने धार्मिक रीति-रिवाज बनाए, कितनी सामाजिक संहिताएं बनाईं। हिन्दू समाज में तो पति को ही परमेश्वर बना दिया गया और यहां तक कि पति की मृत्यु के बाद पत्नी को सती तक होने को मजबूर कर दिया गया। आज जमाना काफी बदला है।तकनीकी विकास ने ऐसी परिस्थिति तैयार की है जिससे नारी और पुरूष के बीच शारिरिक क्षमता का फर्क उत्पादन प्रक्रिया में कोई अर्थ नहीं रखता।बड़े पैमाने पर महिलाएं घर की चारदीवारी से बाहर निकली हैं। नारी मुक्ति संघर्ष में भी महिलाओं ने काफी सफलताएं अर्जित की हैं। हमारे देश में भी बहुत से कानून बने हैं, सुधार हुए हैं जिन्होंने नारी मुक्ति संघर्ष को नई गति प्रदान की है।

बराबरी के लिए नारी का संघर्ष दरअसल एक ऐसी व्यवस्था के लिए संघर्ष है जिसमें बराबरी हासिल करने की आर्थिक ,सामाजिक और राजनीतिक परिस्थितियां मौजूद हों।ऐसा समाज एक समाजवादी समाज ही हो सकता है, जो व्यक्तिगत संपत्ति और वर्ग विभाजन को समाप्त करेगा, जिसमें नारी का प्रथम परिचय घर में उसकी भूमिका से नहीं समाज में उसके योगदान से होगा, जहां संतानोत्पत्ति पर नारी का अपना नियंत्रण होगा। इसलिए कम्यूनिज्म की विचारधारा के मार्गदर्शन में ही नारी मुक्ति का संघर्ष अपनी अंतिम मंजिल तक पहुंच सकता है। पश्चिम का नारीवादी आंदोलन जब यह महसूस करता है कि यूरोप में समाजवाद के पतन ने उसके आंदोलन को भी कमजोर किया है तब वह समाजवाद और नारी मुक्ति के बीच अभिन्न रिश्ते को ही उजागर करता है।

कम्यूनिस्ट इंटरनेशनल ने अपने कार्यक्रम में घोषणा की थी- कानून और वास्तविक जीवन में भी पुरूष और नारी के बीच सामाजिक समानता, पति-पत्नी संबंधों व पारिवारिक संहिता में क्रांतिकारी परिवर्तन, मातृत्व को एक सामाजिक कार्य की मर्यादा, शिशु व किशोरों की देखभाल व शिक्षा की जिम्मेदारी समाज के हाथों में और ऐसी तमाम विचारधारा व परंपरा के खिलाफ अनवरत संघर्ष जो नारी को गुलाम बनाते हैं। नारी मुक्ति संघर्ष में यही कार्यक्रम आज भी आपकी बुनियादी दिशा निर्धारित करता है।

1. कम्युनिस्ट नारी संगठन को सर्वप्रथम पत्रिका और प्रचार के मौखिक माध्यमों के जरिए ऐसी सारी विचारधाराओं व परम्पराओं के खिलाफ जिहाद छेड़ना होगा जो नारी को गुलाम बनाते हैं।आज के भारतीय संदर्भ में यह और भी जरूरी है क्योंकि धर्म की आड़ में समाज की सबसे प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतें नारी को घर की चारदीवारी में कैद रखना चाहती हैं, पुराने सामाजिक-पारिवारिक मूल्यों को फिर से स्थापित करना चाहती हैं।पीछे की ओर इनकी यात्रा में यहां तक कि सती प्रथा का गुणगान भी शामिल है। आपको याद रखना होगा कि सारे भगवान पुरूषों के बनाए हुए हैं जिनकी विशालकाय मूर्तियों के सामने नारी को भयाक्रांत और धर्मभीरू बनाया जाता है, यहां तक कि देवियों का आविष्कार भी पुरूषों ने किया है। नारी को नारी के रूप् में सम्मान हासिल करने के लिए देवी का रूप् लेना पड़ेगा, जबकि सबसे अकर्मण्य पति भी नारी के लिए परमेश्वर है।सारी आचार संहिताएं पुरूषों ने बनाई हैं और उन्हें दैवी जामा पहना कर मानने के लिए नारी को मजबूर किया गया है।

2. कम्युनिस्ट नारी संगठन को पुरूष और नारी के बीच सामाजिक समानता के लिए प्रगतिशील कानून बनाने के लिए जिस तरह लड़ना है , उससे भी अधिक इन कानूनों को लागू करने के लिए संघर्ष करना है। कानून चाहें जितने भी प्रगतिशील क्यों न हो , नौकरशाही और तमाम सामाजिक संस्थाओं के सामंती रुख के चलते अपने आप कुछ लागू नहीं होता। इन संस्थाओं में न्याय पालिका भी अपवाद नहीं है।

3. कम्युनिस्ट नारी संगठन महिलाओं को अपने घर की चारदीवारी के खिलाफ संघर्ष के लिए प्रेरणा देगा, अपने-अपने क्षेत्र में नारी उत्पीड़न की खास-खास घटनाओं के खिलाफ महिलाओं को संगठित करेगा, समाज की निरंकुश ताकतों के द्वारा जनसंघर्षों के दमन में नारी के विशेष उत्पीड़न को अपना निशाना बनाएगा। इसी तरह कदम-ब-कदम महिलाओं की चेतना और संघर्षशील मानसिकता आगे बढ़ेगी और नारी आंदोलन राजसत्ता से टकराएगा।

4. कम्युनिस्ट नारी संगठन को महिलाओं को किसानो-मजदूरों के जनआंदोलनों में , राजनीतिक आंदोलनों में बढ़-चढ़कर हिस्सा लेने के लिए प्रेरित करना होगा। कोई भी जनआंदोलन तब तक जनआंदोलन नहीं बनता है जब तक महिलाओं की बड़ी संख्या उसमें हिस्सा नहीं लेती हो। यह हिस्सेदारी नारी मुक्ति आंदोलन का निषेध नहीं करती है बल्कि महिलाओं में आत्म विश्वास पैदा करती है और अपनी शक्ति का एहसास कराती है, पुरूषों के साथ सहज-स्वाभाविक संबंधों की ओर ले जाती है, घरेलू पारिवारिक रिश्तों में अनजाने में ही एक परिवर्तन लाती है और इस तरह नारी मुक्ति संघर्ष को व्यापक आधार प्रदान करती है।

5. कम्युनिस्ट नारी संगठन महिलाओं के छोटे या बड़े हर प्रतिवाद को, चाहे वह किसी भी संगठन के झंडे तले हो, अवश्य ही समर्थन देगा। बुर्जुआ नारीवादी आंदोलन का भी हमारे देश में विशेष सकारात्मक महत्व है।क्योंकि उसे भी सामंती जकड़नों को अपना निशाना बनाना पड़ता है।और यहां वामपंथी संगठन ही उनके स्वाभाविक मित्र हो सकते हैं। सामंती - सांप्रदायिक हमलों की रोशनी में इन आंदोलनों के साथ वामपंथी नारी संगठनों का मोर्चा बनाना अवश्य ही संभव है और जरूरी भी।

6. कम्युनिस्ट नारी संगठन पति-पत्नी संबंधों व पारिवारिक संहिता में क्रांतिकारी बदलाव को भी अपना नारा बनाएगा। रूसी क्रांति के बाद 1924 में कोमिन्तर्न ने अपनी घोषणा में कहा था - जब तक परिवार और पारिवारिक संबंधों की मान्यताएं नहीं बदलेंगी, क्रांति नपुंसक ही बनी रहेगी। आज मुस्लिम महिलाएं भी प्रचलित तरीकों के खिलाफ आवाज बुलंद करने के लिए पर्दे से बाहर निकल रही हैं। आपको अवश्य ही उनका समर्थन करना चाहिए। मैंने बिहार में जनवादी शादियों के बारे में सुना है जिसमें पुरोहितों और आडंबरों की जगह सीधे-साधे तरीके से शादी की जाती है। यह जरूर अच्छी बात है।लेकिन जनवादी शादी का मतलब होता है नारी को अपना साथी खुद चुनने की स्वतंत्रता और शादी के बाद पारिवारिक जिम्मेदारियों में सहभागिता। इन जनवादी शादियों में, पार्टी के अंदर तथाकथित क्रांतिकारी शादियों में क्या यह बात लागू होती है ? पार्टी के अंदर तथाकथित क्रांतिकारी शादियों के भी अधिकांश में ये नीतियां शायद ही लागू होती हैं।

7. आज तक महिलाओं की प्रगति के लिए किए गए सुधारों में शायद नारियों के अपने संघर्षों से पुरूषों के प्रगतिशील हिस्सों की भूमिका ज्यादा महत्वपूर्ण रही है। कम्युनिस्ट नारी संगठन का विशेष कर्तव्य है नारियों की अपनी भूमिका को बढ़ाना।कारण, अंततः नारी को अपनी मुक्ति खुद हासिल करनी होगी।यहां तक कि हमारी पार्टी में भी महिला कार्यकर्ताओं की मर्यादा-हानि की घटनाएं घटित होती हैं। कुछ-कुछ पुरूष कार्यकर्ताओं द्वारा आम महिलाओं के प्रति बहुत ही गलत आचरणों की रिपोर्ट आती हैं। हम पार्टी संस्थाओं की ओर से अवश्य ही इन मामलों में कदम उठाते हैं। फिर भी, मुझे लगता है कि इन मामलों में कम्युनिस्ट नारी संगठन को पार्टी पर निगरानी रखने और दबाव पैदा करने की भूमिका का भी पालन करना चाहिए।
      
नारी-पुरूष के बीच प्राकृतिक विभाजन को छोड़कर बाकी सारे विभाजन कृत्रिम हैं। ऐतिहासिक विकास के एक दौर ने इन विभाजनों को संस्थाबद्ध रूप दिया है। ऐतिहासिक विकास का दूसरा दौर, जो शुरू हो चुका है, इन सारे विभाजनों का खात्मा कर देगा और मानव प्रगति के दो रूपों के बीच का संबंध जब सहज,स्वाभाविक और बिरादराना हो उठेगा, तभी मानव जाति अपनी खोई हुई अखंड सत्ता को फिर से वापस पा सकेगी। इस मंजिल की ओर जानेवाला रास्ता एक ऐसी क्रांति से होकर गुजरेगा जिसके परचम पर लिखा होगा- ‘समाजवाद और नारी मुक्ति’।


का . विनोद मिश्र
                                                                                                 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fact Finding Report on the Rapes in Haryana


A team of leaders and activists of AIPWA and AISA visited Haryana on 12-13 October, to investigate the alarming spate of rape cases in the state. The team comprised of AIPWA National Secretary Kavita Krishnan, JNU Students’ Union Councillor Anubhuti Bara, and AISA activists from Delhi University, Prerna and Saurabh Naruka. The team was accompanied by Comrade Prem Singh Gehlawat, in-charge of the CPI(ML) for Haryana.

Findings and observations of the team are as follows:

Dabra Case

Reshma (name changed), aged 16 years, belonging to Dalit community (Chamar) was gangraped by 8 persons on September 9, 2012 near Dabra village in Hisar district.

Rape and Resistance – A Survivor’s Account

“On September 9, I was on the way to my grandmother’s (and maternal uncle’s) home in Hisar town, around 3 pm, when I was dragged into a car in which there were 8 men, and taken to a deserted place near a tube-well. They made phone calls after which four more arrived on bikes. They (12 in all) all raped me, and filmed the act. They also threatened me that they would kill me and attack my family if I said anything. They forced me to swallow a pill, after which I became drowsy. When I came to, I came to the main road, hitched a lift on a passing bike and returned home.

I said nothing for nearly 10 days. My mother and I went to stay at my grandmother’s place on 11th. On 18th, my father came there and my parents both began asking me what the matter was. They had noticed that I was silent and depressed. Eventually I broke down and told them. My father then wanted to take me to the thana to file a complaint, but for some reason – hesitation or some pressure, I don’t know why – did not do that.

He left the house and went with my mother to the house of Randeep Surjewala’s mother-in-law (Surjewala is a Congress MLA and Industries Minister in the Haryana Govt), where he (my father) worked as a gardener. I heard that her security guard (associated with Punjab Police) showed my father the video of my rape. My father then sent my mother back to my grandmother’s home. And he then took poison and committed suicide.

On the same day, we went and filed an FIR. Dalit leaders with the help of villagers held a candle light protest, demanding action by the police. We said that we will hold a dharna and refuse to accept my father’s body for last rites, till the police arrests the accused. The dharna began on 19th. One of the accused is the nephew of the former MLA (elected from INLD), Puran Singh, who stays in the same village. Eventually we called off the dharna on 23rd, after the police made the first arrest.

I was shown photographs, and I made a positive identification of one of the rapists, and was unsure about another. But the police took the latter into remand, and beat that poor chap up badly, but did not take the one I had positively identified, into remand, though they did keep him in custody. Now, however, 8 of the accused have been arrested. The Test Identification Parade has not yet taken place, so I cannot say whether these 8 are indeed the culprits.

Since most of the accused are from the Jat community, the Sarpanch and other influential Jats in the village are protecting them. They even tried, through someone, to try to offer me Rs 2 crore to withdraw the case.

The accused live in the same village, in the area where the Jats live. Many of the accused have a criminal background. One of them is accused of killing a Jay boy, and a Chamar (Dalit) boy. Other rapes have occurred, many of them with Dalit girls, at the same spot. But Dalits work under Jats, and so are scared or reluctant to speak out.

The family of the Chamar boy who was brutally murdered have come forward to help us.

Where Jats are accused of rape, there are many powerful people to protect them. When Dalits rape someone from the Jat community, the entire Dalit community would be attacked. In our own village, a Dalit youth who fell in love with a Jat girl was killed. The girl was told to invite him home since her family had agreed to the marriage; they packed the girl off somewhere and killed the Dalit youth.

Sonia Gandhi came to Haryana to visit the family of a rape victim. The media kept asking me that day – why didn’t she come here? How can I answer that – would she phone me to let me know the reason?! The fact is that she won’t come here for fear of antagonising the Jat vote for the Congress.

The Government has promised my brother a job – but they are offering him a job that is not permanent.

I would like to go to school – but I feel I can’t go to the same school. I guess I will join a school that is further away.

Persistent Fear
Pushpa Barad and her daughter Sunita Barad (Reshma’s neighbours), told us that there are only three lanes in the village where Chamars live. There are about 500 Jat households, and 300 Dalit households(including Chamar, Dhanak and other Dalit communities.)

So the Chamars and other Dalits feel very vulnerable. Since the gang-rape, Sunita said she has stopped attending the training classes (towards a job) that she had enrolled for. The reason is that her brother was threatened by Jat men that his sister would not be safe as long as Reshma persisted in her case. Other Dalit girls too are scared to go to school.

There is a 24-hour police watch around Reshma’s house – but the rest of the Dalit community also seek police protection.

Pushpa told us that the former MLA Puran Singh family is quite influential locally, and the daughter of OmPrakash Chautala has also been married in their family.

Local Congress MLA Ram Niwas visited the victim family but showed his helplessness when he said that he can’t do much as he is still only ‘under training’!

Arrests of the Accused

Baljit, one of the accused, was arrested on September 23. We were told that this arrest took place when a girl student from the Jat community spotted him on a bus and tipped off the police. The police too confirmed this.

Several others among the accused were picked up from Ranikhet, Uttarakhand. The 8 now arrested have been apprehended with the help of villagers, some of them Jats.

The Sarpanch

The Sarpanch of the village is Mayawati Kaliravana, a woman, but her husband Inder is the one who goes by the title of Sarpanch. She (Mayawati) says she visited the rape survivor, but Inder admitted that while he had met her relatives, he had not actually met the survivor.

Inder denied that any help or protection was being given to the accused. He said that the accused were criminals, and had misbehaved with Jat girls just as well.

Involvement of Non-Jat Accused

Not all the accused in the case are from the Jat community. Many we spoke to suggested that the rape survivor had gone to the spot of the rape, of her own accord, with a man on a two-wheeler. This man, they said, is from the ‘Chhippi’ (tailor) community and is married and has children. The Sarpanch’s husband Inder said this man has a mobile phone shop, and helped make the MMS.

We must stress, though, that none we spoke to denied that the gang-rape occurred or that the Jat boys were responsible for the gang-rape.

The SP, however, said that this man from the Chippi community was a chemist, and had given the girl a contraceptive pill. When he and the girl emerged from the shack at the tube-well, they were surrounded by the Jat boys who had spotted them, roughed up the girl’s companion and raped her. According to the police, the accused had taken photographs of the girl at the time of the incident, but had not made or circulated an MMS. These photographs, though deleted from the phones of the accused, had been recovered through technology. They showed the girl weeping, and the faces of several of the accused, and were therefore valuable evidence. The man from the Chippi community too has been arrested.

Was this, then, a caste crime?

The police seem to believe, based on the above version, that the gang-rape was of an opportunist rather than a pre-planned nature. Therefore, they seem to assume that the gang-rape should not be seen as a crime against Dalits.

It is true that a girl of any other community in the same situation, too might be vulnerable to rape. But what cannot be ignored is that these were Jat youth from the same village – who recognised Reshma as a Dalit girl from their village. Was this not a factor in emboldening them to rape, confident of their impunity as members of the dominant community. Their confidence that they could terrorise her into silence, surely arose not only from the gendered and patriarchal notion of ‘shame’ imposed on her, but also on the fact that she was a Dalit who would think many times before daring to take on Jats.

Moreover, the fear and insecurity of the Dalit community following the gang-rape is palpable.

What if it is true that a married man from the backward Chippi community took Reshma along to the deserted spot with her consent? If true, this fact would in no way take away from the horrific crime of gang-rape that was committed by the other men – all Jats.

Hence, the SC/ST Act must be invoked in this case.

Conflicting Versions?

We hold that there is no substantial conflict in the versions of the incident regarding the actual gang-rape.
If (as has been suggested by some) the rape survivor has been reluctant to admit that she voluntarily accompanied a man to the spot, that is all too understandable. She would fear the social consequences of such an admission; the speculations about her morality that would follow; she would fear that her allegations of gang-rape would be questioned; and she might also not want to implicate the man with whom she had been friendly.

Can one blame her? She has seen the ruling party (Congress) spokesperson from her district say that 90% rape cases are consensual. Women in our society are told that if you agree to sex or even friendships with men before or outside marriage, why do you object to rape?

Social inhibitions of the rape survivor regarding admitting to a relationship, must not be made a pretext to undermine the credibility of her allegation of gang-rape.

Pressures on the Survivor?

We learnt that the rape survivor had named some of the accused in the FIR, but in her statement before a magistrate, she failed to name any of the accused.

There are indications of pressures on the survivor, not only from influential members of the dominant community as well as vested political interests from her own community. Some accounts suggested that the latter too were attempting to make political capital from the incident, while tacitly weakening the case by misguiding the survivor.

Our demands:
1. The rape survivor is especially courageous and brave. All efforts must be made to ensure that the Government backs her aspirations for education, and also ensures a job for her, not just for her brother.
2. Every effort must be made by the authorities to ensure protection and support for the rape survivor, to ensure that she does not come under any pressure, inducement, or advice by vested interests to ‘compromise’.
3. The case must be fast-tracked, since the more time passes, the more scope there is for the accused to bring pressure on the victim.
4. Rehabilitation for the family and schooling and higher education for the survivor be arranged as per their wishes

Banwasa Case
Naveena (name changed), a girl belonging to landless ‘Dhanak’ (Dalit Community) was gang raped by four persons on Sep 26, 2012. She was 18 years old and had been married just three months back.

Her father Karmaji is a ‘rajmistri’ with five siblings-3 sisters and 2 brothers. At the time of the incident, she was at her paternal house in Banwasa village of Gohana tehsil of Sonipat district.

The incident

Naveena was alone at her parental home when she received a message from her cousin Rambatheri that her husband is waiting for her at Gohana bus. Rambatheri apparently passed on the message given on phone by Shravan (one of the accused). Naveena’s brother, in the course of the conversation, later said that the call had in fact been made to Naveena’s bhabhi Malti.

Falling in the trap she left for Gohana around 10 am on September 26, not to return for next two days. Her brother Gurmit Singh returned from his school at 2 pm when he found that Sunila was not at home after which he spread the word. The worried family made calls to relatives enquiring about her, including to her husband Sunil, staying at Adiyana village of Panipat district, who said she had not returned to his home.

They were not able to trace Naveena on September 27 and 28, after which they informed the police on September 29. In the meantime, Naveena was abducted in a car in broad daylight from Gohana bus stand by the four accused. They took her to Hartadi in Panipat district where she was gangraped for two days.

The Village Sarpanch who belongs to same community as Naveena assisted the family in tracking her. The police, taking the lead from Shravan’s mobile number, nabbed the culprits on September 29.

Three of the accused belongs to same ‘Dhanak’ community. The fourth accused of Sikandara Manjara village belongs to Brahmin community.

We had gone in the daytime, so Naveena was away working in the fields. We were unable to meet her in spite of our efforts, so many unanswered questions remain about the incident.

Our Demands:
Protection to the rape survivor, speedy trial, and punishment for those identified by the survivor as the rapists.

Sachhakheda case

Sharmila, aged 16 years, committed suicide after being raped by Pradeep and Naveen in broad day light on Oct 6, 2012. The accused were assisted in the crime by Manoj, Meenu (Manoj’s wife) and Sanjeev.

The victim as well as the accused belongs to same Balmiki community.

The Incident

While Sharmila was returning home she was dragged into Manoj’s house, near her own house, by one of the accused, Pradeep. While she was being raped Manoj, Meenu and Sanjeev kept guard.

After the incident the girl later went to her uncle house nearby, poured kerosene on her body and immolated herself. On hearing her screams, the neighbours rushed to the spot and informed the police.

She was taken to Narwana Hospital in police van and was referred to Rohtak hospital. Her statement was recorded by the Magistrate only after much persuasion and delay, before she succumbed to her injuries at the emergency ward of the hospital.

One of the accused Manoj is related to the sitting MLA Prithvi Singh of INLD of Narwana constituency. After the initial lapse the police was able to nab all the accused in the next two days. However, Sharmila’s family was apprehensive that Manoj might escape punishment.

The Sarpanch of Saccha Kheda village, Nirmala, was initially reluctant to discuss the case, leaving it to her husband Ram Bhagat to do the talking. Eventually they both adopted the refrain, “The guilty should be punished but the innocent should not face unjust action,” indicating that in their view Manoj and Meenu are being unjustly accused. But they could not explain what motive Sharmila’s family had to level false accusations on anyone. The Sarpanch’s home had several large photographs and displays dedicated to the Chautala family and the INLD.

As per some news reports the accused have also made advances earlier on Sharmila which was duly informed to the police but no action was taken.

Our Demands
1. The rapists, as well as those who enabled the rape by preventing the victim’s escape, must be punished severely.
2. Measures must be taken to prevent any of the accused from taking refuge behind political protection.

General Observations and Conclusions:

The spate of rape cases in Haryana is cause enough for concern. The CM, Bhoopinder Hooda, has said there is nothing alarming about these incidents since they are not unique to Haryana. Sonia Gandhi too has said that the Haryana Government cannot be held responsible for the rapes.

However, it is impossible to deny that the Government, as well as the entire ruling establishment including the ruling party and the main Opposition party, are deeply culpable for the rising instances of rapes and other crimes against women.

Dharmveer Goyat, one of the spokespersons for the ruling Congress, has declared that 90% of rapes are consensual. In other words, most rape complainants are liars, in his view.

Phool Chand Mulana, Chief of Haryana’s ruling party, the Congress, declared that the rapes are a conspiracy against the Government.

Khap panchayat leaders and former Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala proposed child marriage as a solution to prevent rape. ‘Child marriage’ – i.e marriage before the age of 16 – is something the khap panchayats have long been demanding. Because marriage in childhood can help achieve their objective of preventing self-choice marriages – that they otherwise seek to achieve through threats of violence and ‘honour’ killings. When Haryana DGP R S Dalal said parents need to keep an eye on the activities of their children, he too is advocating greater surveillance – mainly on the mobility of young girls.

Rape itself is one way of maintaining patriarchal and caste domination through terror. And these reactionary ‘solutions’ for rape only seek to strengthen the patriarchal stranglehold on women.

The fact is that casteist and patriarchal forces are feeling emboldened because they feel that the Haryana Government and the police are with them. The Government and police have time and again protected the perpetrators of ‘honour crimes’ and atrocities against dalits be it at Bhagana, Mirchhpur, or Gohana. And this is undoubtedly a factor in the increasing rapes and other forms of violence on women.

We hear praise from some quarters nowadays for the Haryana Government’s efforts to campaign against sex-selective abortion by roping in the khap panchayats. The khap panchayats have also offered their services in preventing and punishing rape – suggesting that social boycott of rapists would be a deterrent. We believe that such initiatives are dishonest and misleading. Violence against women – be it rape, ‘honour’ crimes or sex-selective abortion - can be resisted and curbed only by measures that safeguard and promote women’s equality and rights and by struggles against patriarchal forces, attitudes, and structures. The solution to crimes against women cannot come from those very patriarchal forces that are the bulwark of sexist and misogynist attitudes.

Rather than claiming to rope in khap panchayats to fight crimes on women, the Haryana Government ought rather to heed the demands of women’s groups, act firmly against the anti-constitutional activities of khap panchayats; and come down hard on any instances of collusion between police forces and khap panchayats or others accused of crimes against women and Dalits. 

                                                                                                                 by Kavita Krishnan
                                                                                                                National Secretary (AIPWA)