Impunity in disposing off rape case of a Muslim girl

Malegaon: The rape and murder of Rukhsana of Partur Hathdi, Jalna district, is dreadfully gruesome. She was pregnant and was raped by some unidentified Hindus. From the gory details of the circumstances it is clear who had raped her. The police Patel of the village Sadashiv Jurekar and the sarpanch (village head) Ramesh Shyam got the death of Rukshana registered as suicide and then burnt her dead body in the Muslim graveyard of the village.

What can be inferred without any doubt is that both administrative officials of the village tried to cover up the matter. They could not be so naïve as to believe that Muslims burn their dead in their cemetery! The rural Muslims are the most penurious of our population. Their being indigent helps them survive at the sufferance of the Hindus. Crimes committed against them have little chance of seeing the light of day let alone registration in any administrative office of the state. The way her body was disposed off shows that the rapists and killers were not from the Muslim community. The deafening silence of their identity is eloquently telling the story of that identity. The hand to mouth existence of the rural Muslim makes it unthinkable that they would ever have enough to grease the palms of the officials.

However, some Muslim leaders came to know the murky circumstances. One of them was Abu Azmi who condemned the event and spoke about the plight of the rural Muslims. But on Saturday April 9, 2011the Maharashtra Assembly legislative council member Hussein Dalwai entered the hall with an earthen pot containing the ashes and bones of Rukhsana. He along with other leaders like Manikrao Thakere protested.

That forced Home Minister RR Patil to pacify them that an inquiry by the crime investigation department would be conducted and the guilty would be brought to book.

This case of rape and murder of a Muslim girl could not have drawn even this much attention in the legislative council but for the sudden change in the time schedule. Two important matters were on the agenda but the concerned members and ministers were absent when the assembly session began. The third item was the case of Rukhsana. The Home Minister casually assured that an inquiry would be conducted. The matter was hushed up. But Dalwai came to know of it in a hospital of Mumbai. He rushed to the assembly hall and along with the congress party president Manikrao Thakere forced the speaker to restart the debate on the issue. Hence, the dramatic entry of Dalwi!

Sachar commission says Muslims constitute majority in the prison population of India. However, some crimes like rape have become so expensive that they are beyond the reach of some. In the absence of a healthy civil society and strict adherence to the rule of law the women and the minorities suffer alike. But for women from the minority it is virtual hell. Even the dead body gets no peace (courtesy Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God).  The mainstream papers have no space for the Rukhsanas as they are preoccupied with the weighty matters of corruption.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2011 on page no. 11

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