A First Information Report (FIR) has been registered by the Haryana police at Bahadurgarh Police Station against six people for the alleged gangrape of a 26-year-old woman who they say had been participating in the farmers’ protest at Tikri border. The woman, according to police, had died of Covid on April 30. Police told mediapersons that the woman had come to the Tikri border in April from her home state West Bengal, along with six people who they say were a part of the Kisan Social Army. This group included two men, who the 26-year-old had met at a public meeting in Bengal stated police. According to news reports, just days after she arrived at Tikri border, the woman had Covid symptoms and was admitted to hospital on April 26 when her health worsened, said the police.
According to news reports the woman’s father held a press conference on Monday evening and said that his daughter told him of the alleged rape when he met her at the hospital in Jhajjar on April 29. He told the media that his daughter said that “she had been harassed and raped after she left for Tikri. In the train, one of the accused grabbed her hand and forcefully kissed her. After she came to Tikri, she was staying in the tent of the Kisan Social Army, where two of the men who had accompanied her raped her. She told me that they had been blackmailing her.”
The police told the media that they identified the two men as Anil Malik and Anup Singh and registered an FIR under various IPC sections, including section 376-D (gangrape). Vijay Kumar, SHO, Bahadurgarh City police station said, “a Special Investigation Team, headed by DCP (Bahadurgarh) and including myself, has been formed to conduct the probe”. According to the woman’s father, he had filed “a complaint against Malik and Singh, but police have named four other people as well. Two of them are women who have been helping me since I came here. I want the accused to be punished but the innocent should not have to suffer.” The Indian Express quoted the SHO clarifying that the father’s complainant has mentioned that “his daughter left from Bengal with six people, so we have named them all and will investigate whether this was a conspiracy. If anyone is innocent, that will emerge in the probe.”
What is the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) response?
The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders have said they were not aware of the allegations made by the woman until after her death. While social media has been buzzing against and even calling for the arrest of Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav, who is associated with the farmers’ protest, he has said that he met the family first only on April 24, after the victim’s father alerted him about her medical condition. “Since she was from Bengal, I asked my wife to speak to her in Bangla. She indicated she was being troubled, but it was not clear what the situation was. However, she had a medical condition so it was decided to take her to the hospital the next day,” said Yadav.
However, according to Yadav he was alerted by the woman’s father that “she is being taken somewhere”. Yadav said he called the victim but “sensed someone was listening to the call”. Yadav reportedly told the woman to give the phone to the people with her, and he asked them where they were taking her. The IE reports that these men have since been identified as the two main accused.
The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, also held an online press conference and told the media that they stand “with the struggle for justice for our deceased woman colleague”. According to the SKM, they have “removed the tents and banners of the so-called “Kisan Social Army”. The accused were barred from participating in the movement and public appeal issued for their social boycott. The SKM has made it clear that the Kisan Social Army was never the authorized social media voice of the SKM and none of its handles have anything to do with the movement.” According to the SKM, they have assured the family of the victim of all “possible support in any legal recourse that they prefer” and also “full cooperation to the police in bringing out the truth of this matter. No one shall be spared.”
The SKM has stated that it recognises that the “large-scale participation of women farmers and women farmer leaders is a unique strength of this movement” and has assured all the women participating that “there shall be no compromise with women’s freedom, their autonomy and their agency. The SKM shall follow Zero Tolerance for any incident of sexual harassment, assault or violence against women. We acknowledge that it is the responsibility of the leadership to foster a culture that encourages full and free participation of women in the movement.”
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