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The whole story could have remained secret and buried in the village had it not been for a local Congress leader, Mohammad Aslam Raini of
Bhinga. He took the matter to the police and organised press conferences and rallies in front of the local police officers. Even then the First Information Report (FIR) of the “kidnapping” of Vandana was lodged on 11 July 2007 before the FIR of the attack on Dhanni Deeh which was registered next day, that is two days after the attack. Police officials had already made arrests prior to registering any FIR. Until 19-20 July when this correspondent visited Dhanni Deeh and
Bhinga, seven arrests were made in the case no 314/07 FIR dated 11 July 07.
During the last 10 days, a number of organisations and government agencies made
enquiries. Some have come out in public while the results of some remain secret. The Police department in the area has been reshaped. A few officers have been
transferred or suspended. This leads to suspicion that material facts are being suppressed under higher-up pressure. Till date the girl's recovery has not been made while she makes regular phone calls to his relatives and acquaintances in her village telling them that she has married
When this reporter met the father of the girl, “Barkau” (Krishna Narayan
Dwivedi), he simply denied that any atrocities had been committed as are being reported in the press. He claimed that the whole affair has been created on false grounds by a “rival” political group headed by Aslam
Raini, who, Barkau claimed, “paid money to level heinous charges against us.” He further claimed that no rape had been committed as the medical reports of the victims suggest. Barkau said he does not have any thing to do with politics. His only concern was that the girl returns safely. He further said that this reporter was the first representative of the press seeking his side of the story. Even Mataprasad Pandey has not visited him, said Barkau who alongwith nine persons had been in jail and was given bail on mercy grounds because his mother-in-law expired in the night of 13-14 July and there was no one to perform her last rites. Barkau said that he had met the father of the boy and had asked him to seek for his daughter's safe return, considering Barkau’s reputation and previous relationship and good behaviour towards Chunnu's family members. Barkau also admitted that the boy
(Saleem) had been a regular visitor to his house and that he often offered his services at Barkau's place as a tractor driver. The boy often accompanied the girl to the school. Barkau may not be involved in the actual attack but the whole story suggests that he certainly was involved in the planning, and that goons took advantage to beat, loot and rape Sain Muslim community members. All Hindus in the area met by this reporter denied that any attack or rapes have taken place. Only one person this correspondent met outside the village accepted that the attack and rapes took place. He said that he saw a naked woman running away from the attackers. He knew her because he frequently visited the village. The man realised that he had said something he was not supposed to. He quickly turned his face and walked away before any further questions.
“The UP minister and his cohorts are trying to malign me by spreading rumors that I had paid money to the Sain community for making these false accusations. They claim that I had a grudge against the Hindu community because I did not get support from the Pundits of the locality during the last assembly elections and was defeated by the present MLA by only 91 votes,” said Aslam Raini when this reporter visited him in
Bhinga. He clarified that he too has been informed that some money has been paid but not on his behalf. It was actually just Rs 500 to a few victims on compassionate grounds by a visiting political leader from Lucknow who met the victims on 17 July. The leader did so when he found that the victims do not have even cooking utensils which were looted during the attack. Aslam Raini too had visited the village on 14 July along with Ms. Rubab Sayyida
(MP) and Dr Waqar as part of the Samajwadi Party delegation led by Avdhesh
Prasad. He was at the back of the convoy. When Aslam’s car reached
Dharmantapur, villagers stopped the vehicle and tried to snatch him out of the car. He at once phoned the police and could return to Sirsia only under police protection.
A women's team from the Congress Party, led by Ms. Tarany Pandey, visited Dhanni Deeh and Dharmantapur on 17 July and declared that no rape took place. This reporter found out that Ms. Pandey did not care to meet the victims personally. She went only up to the Idgah while her representatives met the victims. It might be that the representatives told her a different story. Had she met the victims personally she could not have denied the atrocities.
On the other hand former Samajwadi leader and ex-minister Beni Prasad Verma met the victims on 17 July and condemned the incident. He also met the family members of the girl and consoled them. Reportedly the police commissioner has submitted a report about this attack.
The tragedy has created ripples in the UP state politics. Various parties are raising the issue inside the state assembly and on other platforms. on 16 July, the incident rocked the assembly for the second day. The ruling BSP ruled out mass rape and claimed that prompt action had already been taken, while Samajwadi party leaders demanded the resignation of Daddan
Mishra, a minister of state from the area, holding him “morally responsible” for the incident while the BJP and Congress demanded the ordering of an immediate CBI or judicial probe.
Former Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey who led a SP delegation to the village to probe the incident described it as abhorrent where women from the age of 10 years to 70 years were publicly humiliated by disrobing them, parading them naked in and around the village and raping some of them. According to him such blatant violation of the law and its subsequent cover up was not possible if the culprits did not have the support of the local administration who depend on the protection of the political bosses. Pandey said the police had not registered the complaint of the victims for two days and this was not a minor lapse but was crucial to the case as it had helped in destroying vital medical evidence which could have implicated the perpetrators of the crime. Pandey wondered how the news of the ghastly incident that lasted four hours on the morning of July 10 did not reach the police station which was just 3 km away.
Despite the probe team's report, confirming the mass rape, was shared in the House, parliamentary affairs minister Lalji Verma stuck to the version presented by the government that the medical report of the women did not confirm rape.
The Sain community has still not come out of the shock. A majority of them are still hiding here and there, fearful of returning to their homes in the village. Most of their menfolk work in other cities as labourers and visit the village only once in a while. Many houses in Dhanni Deeh village are deserted today, with their doors open and belongings scattered. Out of the forty houses seen by this correspondent only eight seemed to be occupied. Some of them are finding it difficult to cook their food for want of utensils, wheat and grains which were looted or spoilt by the attackers who broke the jars and threw away the stored grains and pulses. Yet they seem resigned to their fate and feel totally helpless to stand against the attackers, many of whom are personally known to them. When this reporter asked that why they did not used the democratic means to get their rights, they said that if we took such a recourse we would not be able to live here. The Sain community has stopped talking to their Hindu neighbours in the village and nearby areas. Tension is writ large. A police force is camping in both villages at present.