Under any other circumstances, the chief minister of a state where horrific rapes, torture and murders were reported on one weekend, would have quit. However, this is Uttar Pradesh, and its chief minister Ajay Singh Bhisht, has just been crowned the best Chief Minister by a leading media house.
Uttar Pradesh’s climb towards being the crime capital rose a few more notches over the Independence Day weekend. Two horrific cases of rape and torture of minor girls, where one was murdered and the other has suffered serious injuries have been reported from Lakhimpur, and Gorakhpur, the latter being the CM’s home district. A Dalit pradhan, named Satyamev Jayate, has been shot dead allegedly by the ‘higher’ caste Thakurs. The CM is yet to make an official statement about the collapse of law and order.
On Sunday a Uttar Pradesh police shared details of a horrific case rape an torture of a 17-year-old girl, that took place in Gorakhpur district, the home turf of the UP CM, who is also the ‘mahant’ or chief priest of the Gorakhnath Math. According to multiple media reports based on news agency inputs, the teenager was raped, and singed with cigarette butts, and was later found unconscious in the Gola area of Gorakhpur district. She is currently undergoing treatment for injuries caused by the torture.
According to The Wire, police have registered a case against one Arjun of Dehri Bihar village and an unidentified man on the basis of a written complaint from the survivor’s mother.
According to the Hindustan Times report, the teenage girl, daughter of a brick kiln labourer, had gone to fetch water from a hand pump on Friday night, when the two accused forcibly took her to a hut near a pond in the village on a motorcycle and allegedly raped her. They also tortured the girl and burnt her with lit cigarette butts. They ran when she fell unconscious. The girl identified one of the accused as Arjun. The police registered a case against him, and another unidentified man on the basis of a written complaint from the survivor’s mother. “A case of kidnapping, gangrape and under sections of the POCSO Act is registered against the two men,” Senior Superintendent of Police Sunil Kumar Gupta told the media, adding, “a hunt is on for the accused”.
— GORAKHPUR POLICE (@gorakhpurpolice) August 17, 2020
This incident comes close on the heels of another attack on a minor girl in UP. According to a report by NDTV, on Friday, August 14, a 13-year-old child was raped, brutalised and killed in Uttar Pradesh’s Lakhimpur Kheri district. Her body was found in a sugarcane field, the police told the media. Trigger warning: news reports describe the horrific condition of the child’s body. The victim’s father is quoted by the media, as saying that his daughter had been strangled, her eyes gouged out and her tongue cut. According to news reports the crime took place on Friday, around 130 km from the state’s capital Lucknow, in a village close to the Nepal border. Her body was found in the fields of one of the accused, who has been arrested along with another man. According to news reports the two accused will be charged with rape, murder and also under the National Security Act (NSA).
However, the UP Police, reported NDTV, stated that the post-mortem report that came on Sunday night, does not show her eyes were gouged out or tongue cut. The police reportedly said that the injuries on the child’s face were likely to have been caused by ‘the sharp sugarcane leaves’. The police confirmed that the autopsy mentioned rape and strangulation. NDTV quoted SP of Kheri Satendra Kumar said assaying, “Her eyes were not gouged and tongue was not cut. The claim is not true. There is nothing in the post-mortem report to suggest this. There were scratches near the eyes, likely due to the sharp sugarcane leaves where the body was found.” NDTV also quoted the district police chief saying, “The girl’s post mortem has confirmed rape. The two accused had been arrested already. We will file charges for rape, murder and also under the National Security Act.”
थाना ईसानगर जनपद खीरी क्षेत्रान्तर्गत बालिका की हत्या की घटना के संबंध में पुलिस अधीक्षक महोदय खीरी की बाइट pic.twitter.com/KHCbHVuRKk
— KHERI POLICE (@kheripolice) August 16, 2020
The girl’s father stated that his daughter was missing since Friday afternoon, “We went looking for her everywhere. Found her in the sugarcane field. Her eyes had been gouged out. Her tongue was cut and strangled with a dupatta.”
— GORAKHPUR POLICE (@gorakhpurpolice) August 17, 2020
While UP chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has yet not made a public comment on the issue, his bete noir BSP chief Mayawati, and the state congress have added these incidents to their arsenal against the state’s BJP government.
“After the rape of a Dalit minor in Pakariya village of Lakhimpur Kheri, UP, his brutal killing again is extremely sad and shameful. What was the difference between such incidents in the SP and the present BJP government? The government should take strict action against the culprits of Kheri along with Azamgarh, this demand of BSP.”
यूपी के लखीमपुर खीरी के पकरिया गाँव में दलित नाबालिग के साथ बलात्कार के बाद फिर उसकी नृशंस हत्या अति-दुःखद व शर्मनाक। ऐसी घटनाओं से सपा व वर्तमान भाजपा सरकार में फिर क्या अन्तर रहा? सरकार आजमगढ़ के साथ खीरी के दोषियों के विरूद्ध भी सख्त कार्रवाई करे, बीएसपी की यह माँग है।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) August 15, 2020
According to Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, “Uttar Pradesh is the most vulnerable state for women. Even after seeing excesses with girls every day, how does CM Yogi manage to sleep? If he can’t run the state, he must resign,”
महिलाओं के लिए उत्तर प्रदेश सबसे असुरक्षित राज्य है। बच्चियों के साथ रोज रोज ज्यादती देखकर पता नहीं सीएम योगी को नींद कैसे आती होगी। राज्य नहीं संभल रहा तो इस्तीफा दे दो।
— Chandra Shekhar Aazad (@BhimArmyChief) August 17, 2020
The UP Congress has alleged that such cases of crime against women and children were now daily news from UP, “Daughters, women, girls – no one is safe.”
अब यूपी सीएम के गृह क्षेत्र से ये हैवानियत की खबर।
हर दिन आप सुबह उठिए और आपका सामना यूपी में हैवानियत भरी आपराधिक घटनाओं से होता है। बेटियां, महिलाएं, बच्चियां – कोई भी सुरक्षित नहीं है।
सीएम – मंत्री – प्रशासन कुंभकर्णी नींद से भी ज्यादा गहरी नींद में सोया हुआ है। pic.twitter.com/6CLygUWdum
— UP Congress (@INCUttarPradesh) August 17, 2020
This is the third incident of rape of a minor girl in the state and comes close on the crime against a six-year-old girl that was reported from western Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur, less than 100 km from Delhi, last week. That child too was kidnapped and raped. According to news reports, the police managed to arrest the accused almost a week later, on Friday. The child is still recovering in hospital, and has undergone surgery, stated reports.
The UP CM has continued to maintain his silence on those crimes against Dalits too. On Friday, a Dalit man, who was also a village pradhan, or elected village head was shot dead, allegedly by the upper castes. The 42-year-old victim was named ‘Satyamev Jayate’, meaning the truth always wins.
According to a report in the Indian Express, there was heavy police presence in the village, and homes belonging to the ‘upper caste’ members have been locked. The local Dalits community has alleged that Satyamev was killed “for refusing to kow-tow to the Thakurs.”
The IE explains that even though Dalits outnumber the upper castes 5:1 in Bansgaon village of Azamgarh district, it is the Brahmins and Thakurs, who continue to wield clout. Satyamev, was a first-time pradhan of Bansgaon, was shot dead, allegedly by the upper castes. His wife Munni Devi has alleged in the FIR she lodged, that one Vivek Singh came to their house around 5 P.M on Friday and took him away on a motorcycle, “Later, Vivek Singh, Suryansh Kumar Dubey, Brijendra Singh and Wasim took him to Singh’s pond. There, they shot him.”
His relatives alleged that “the fact that several Dalits of the village were now educated and holding good jobs had added to the upper caste resentment.” According to the victim’s nephew Lincoln his family had worked hard, was educated, and now owned around 15 bighas of land in the village. “This was another reason the upper castes did not like my uncle.”
“They were jealous of Satyamev’s stature and the fact that he walked around with his head held high. They murdered him because they could not stand a Dalit man saying no to them.” There are around 300 Scheduled Caste families in Bansgaon village, and just about 30-odd families each of Thakurs and Brahmins. Given their small numbers, the upper castes have not held the pradhan post since long. According to IE, Lincoln says that after the murder, the four accused went to Satyamev’s mother, and abused her using casteist slurs. “They told her they had killed Satyamev. They asked her to go see his body.”
The report quotes the DIG (Azamgarh Range) Subhash Chandra Dubey saying, the police were going by Satyamev’s family’s claims “till the accused are arrested and questioned”. He added, “It doesn’t matter what the motive is. The murder of an elected person is a very serious crime.” The police have lodged a case against Vivek Singh alias Bholu, Suryansh Kumar Dubey, Brijendra Singh alias Gappu and Wasim for Satyamev’s murder. Dubey has five other cases against him, including attempt to murder reported IE.
Another casualty of that shootout was eight-year-old Sooraj, who allegedly got crushed by a vehicle in the protests that broke out after the pradhan’s murder. On Saturday, his family alleged the boy had come under a police vehicle.
DIG Dubey said the police and administration had ensured that the situation didn’t spin out of control, and invoked the stringent Goonda Act, Gangster Act and National Security Act against the accused. “We have declared a reward of Rs 25,000. We have detained their immediate family members… All four will be arrested soon.”