Fact-Finding Report On Dhanni Deeh Case
On 7th July 07 a Hindu Brahmin girl Vandana d/o Mr. Krishna Narayan Dwivedi former Pradhan r/o village Dharmantapur, Sirsiya P. S. left with a Muslim boy Salim s/o Mr. Abdur Rehman @ Chunnu r/o village Dhanni Deeh, Sirsiya P. S., District Shravasti.
Nestled in the foothill of the Himalayas on the Indo-Nepal border Dharmantapur and Dhanni Deeh are adjacent villages some 4 kilometers off the main Bhinga road. The majestic mountain range forms the backdrop of both the villages. Coming from the main road one has to first cross Dharmantapur, the village of the girl before approaching Dhanni Dee, where the gang rape took place.
According to Vandana’s father they immediately intimated the P. S. and started searching for the girl. On 8th July ‘07 the boy’s father was apprehended and taken to the police station for interrogation. The next day (9th July ‘07) he was released.
On 11th July the father of the girl lodged an FIR (Case No. 314/07 u/s 363, 366 IPC) against Salim, Abdur Rehman and others. Presently, two people namely Mr. Abdur Rehman @ Chunnu and Azmat are in police custody.
On 10th July ‘07, the Dhanni Deeh village was attacked in broad daylight
(9.30 a. m. -10.00 a. m.). The mob carrying arms (lathis etc.) ransacked the mostly kuccha houses, looting their belongings including jewellery and cash. Even food grain stored in deris was not spared. It lay scattered on the floor of the courtyards and inside the dark unlit rooms as a silent testimony of the incident.
Worst still, settling scores of sort against the entire women population of the man’s village, member of the girl’s family publicly humiliated the women folk. According to their version they were disrobed, paraded naked in the village and some of them were dragged to the sugarcane fields behind the Mango orchard and near a massive peepal tree where they were sexually assaulted and gang raped.
Fearing retaliation close family members of the man’s family had already left the village soon after the couple escaped. As such the wrath of the attacking mob fell on the womenfolk of the boy’s community in general.
As most able-bodied men of the community had already left the village after the police picked Chunnu, the boy’s father, the only ones who remained in the village, were the sick or the old. The mob described as between 400-1000 men targeted women of all age groups (10-70 yrs of age) belonging to a particular community. The women were brutally beaten there were bruises on their body parts including legs, back, thigh and neck.
In addition to gang rape and sexual assault they were stripped and paraded naked in the village and nearby areas. The incident came to light when two days later some villagers could gather enough courage to approach the local Congress leader Mr. Aslam Raini who took them to the then SP Luv Kumar at Bhinga and under whose pressure the FIR was lodged on the night of 12 July. It is here at Bhinga that the media learnt of the incident through an impromptu press conference where women for the first time admitted that they had been gang raped.
Consequently, an FIR (316/07 u/s 147, 323, 427, 504 and 506 IPC) was lodged against 100-150 unknown men but nobody was charged for committing sexual assault and rape. On 13th July (three days after the incident) medical examination of 16 (one refused from getting medically examined) women from Dhanni Deeh village was conducted but the report came negative. Presently, the police have arrested 10 persons in this case including the father of the girl.
The role of police in the whole case needs to be re-looked. They apprehended Salim’s father Mr. Abdur Rehman and other persons even before the FIR was lodged. Despite the disappearance of the couple and the tension following that the police took no preventive measures whatsoever.
As a result the mob not only gathered at Dhanni Deeh but also the attacked the village in broad daylight and remained there for four hours committing the nefarious crime completely unhindered.
Yet the local Police Station (P. S.) did not register a case against anybody. Two days later, only after pressure came from a local politician did the SP direct them to lodge an FIR about the incident. Here again the perpetrators were not charged for rape and sexual assault though all the women complained about it.
Interestingly, the FIR did not include any charge/section of sexual assault. Yet the police conducted medical examinations three days late (13 July) of all the women who complained of it and the state is quoting that very medical report to insist that no woman was molested or sexually assaulted. The CHC doctor who conducted the medical examination says that prima facie rape was not established. The women’s clothes were not made available to her.
Now on the basis of the defective FIR and medical examination report the state is adamantly refusing to admit that rape had in fact taken place.
The State Govt. upon receiving information about the incident terminated the services of SO Sirsiya P. S. Naveen Mishra on the ground of dereliction of duty as he intentionally failed to take any action against the perpetrators and resultantly the incident came into light after the lapse of 2 days.
The CO (Sirsiya P. S.) Mayaram Verma and SP Luv Kumar of Shravasti district were also suspended. Presently Commissioner Devipatan Division Ashok Singh has been asked to conduct an enquiry into the incident and present its report to the state government within a fortnight.
He is being assisted by DIG Dr. Sanjay Tarde and Bahraich (Add.) SP Rajesh Pushkar. In the process of investigating the incident Ashok Kumar is getting the statements of the survivors recorded. On the basis of the statements of the women survivors of Dhanni Deeh recorded on Sunday (15 July) six more women confessed of being raped and were sent for medial examinations today (16 July), six days after the incident.
Yet, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Lalji Verma speaking on behalf of the state government in the Vidhan Sabha today (16th July) reiterated what he had said on Friday that no woman was raped in the whole incident as neither the FIR nor the medical examination report corroborates it!
Speaking on the floor of the house Mr Verma described the incident as ‘mamuli ghatna’ (minor incident). He said that never before has any government taken such prompt action and dismissed a daroga (SO) and suspended a CO and SP over such a ‘mamuli ghatna’.
The only new fact mentioned by the minister on 16 July was that a team has been sent to Mumbai to recover the girl.
Mr. Verma took no cognizance of the probe report of Samajwadi Party delegation led by former speaker Mata Prasad Pandey that visited the village on 14 July to make an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
Mr. Pandey’s report clearly mentioned that women had not only been gang raped but even paraded naked in the village. Charging the local BSP MLA Daddan Mishra of complicity the probe report held him responsible for creating an environment in which a certain caste felt emboldened enough to commit such a heinous crime. Such gross violation of the rule of law could not have taken place without the protection of the local police in connivance of its political bosses, the SP leaders maintained.
Vandana’s Age: According to her father Vandana is 15 years of age and had passed High School examination in 2005. However when the fact-finding team asked for a copy of her High School certificate he refused to share on the ground that it is still with the school. Mr. Krishna Narayan Dwivedi lodged the FIR against Salim on 11th July (9.35 a. m.), whereas according to his own statement the girl was kidnapped on 7th July ‘07. Conspicuous presence of political party representatives in the area (SP, Congress, BJP etc.) Dhanni Deeh village was attacked on 10 July whereas the FIR was registered on 12 July and did not include the charge of rape and sexual assault. The women were attacked on 10th July whereas the medical examination was conducted on 13th July and subsequently on 16 July. The state government’s stand on the whole incident is truly deplorable as it is still in denial mode. Far from initiating the process of providing justice to the women by registering cases under relevant sections of the IPC, the state government did not even acknowledge the incidences of gang rape and sexual assault. Many women and children who ran away from the village during/ immediately after the gang rape are yet to return to their homes. Children of Dhanni Deeh have not returned to their schools or madarsas after the incident, as they fear that the villagers of Dharmantapur may attack them again when they cross the village to reach the main road.
Fact Finding Team
A team comprised of Risha Syed (AALI), Manjari Chandra (AALI), Shahira Naim (The Tribune), Ravi Jeena (MASVAW), Puneet (Jan Vikas Sansthan), Shakeela (Aghaz-e-Insaaf) visited the area to conduct a fact-finding. They spoke with girl’s family: Residents of Dhanni Deeh village CO, Sirsiya P. S. Commissioner Devipatan Division DIG Dr Sanjay Tarpade ASP Bahraich Rajesh Pushkar Jan Morcha local Journalist Mr Umesh Gupta and Dr Rabia Sultana, MO.
The new police team is in place at the thana and district level. This however, does not automatically guarantee better law and order which constantly needs to be monitored. Need to mobilize public opinion so that the state government is forced to acknowledge the crime and the enquiry team or any further probe ordered by the government can fearlessly bring the culprits to book. Police and administration has to restore the faith of the people in the village so that they return to their homes, places of work and study. There is a need to understand and guard against the role of the politicians entering the fray to draw political mileage out of the unfortunate incident. It should be remembered that exercising the right to choice very often triggers such violence against the boy’s family irrespective of caste and religion. Hence every effort should be made during advocacy on the issue not to let political parties and front organizations paint the violence as strictly communal and cause an escalation of communal tension. Need for relevant state bodies i. e. State Commission for Women (SCW), State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and the Minority Commission to take pro-active measures to address and intervene in such incidences of mass violations.