The women gang raped during the Muzaffarnagar riots are still waiting for the Uttar Pradesh government to take action on their complaints. Six women belonging to Fugana village, which was worse hit during the riots that started on 7 September, have alleged that they were gang raped by the rioters. While no medical aid was given to them for days after the incident, the state police tried to suppress the cases by offering the victims money. Three months after the incident, the accused roam free.
This week, two of the six victims got to record their statements in front of the district magistrate. The victims' lawyer, Vrinda Grover said that she would file a writ petition in the Supreme Court on Monday since no arrests have been made by the police under the new anti-rape law until now.
"It is impossible for them to get justice in UP. The police did not even register their cases and tried to bribe their families in order to make them withdraw the complaints until some human rights organisations intervened. I will file a writ petition in the SC on behalf of seven women, the seventh being a 20-year-old who was raped by two men later outside the relief camps. Each one of them has named around four to five men in their complaints," Grover told this newspaper.
She added that the city hospital did not attend to these women when they complained of abdominal pain and several other conditions. Also, some of them were humiliated and criticised by the women doctors for alleging rape.
"The women were not taken to the hospital for days after the incident took place during which time their condition deteriorated. It was only after three weeks of the riots that they were sent for a medical check up to confirm rape, which was irrelevant by that time. Three of them were down with severe fever and abdominal pain for almost two weeks. They told me that their families are still being threatened by the village leaders to withdraw the complaints," Grover said.
Some of these women have taken shelter in their relatives' homes for better healthcare while others are still in the relief camps. Their houses in Fugana were burnt down by the rioters.
Asif Ahmed (name changed), husband of one of the 35-year-old victims residing at Jogiya Kheda camp in Muzaffarnagar district, told this newspaper, "They raped my wife in front of me.
A group of men led by the village pradhan entered our house saying they will not let anything happen to us. However, as I tried to run some of them held me at the door while the others got my wife. Five of them raped her taking turns after which they dragged us out and burnt down the house. I could not believe what happened then. She has not been normal since then. Her health is deteriorating every day. The police offered us Rs 20,000-30,000 to withdraw our complaint, but we have decided to fight the case."
He said that he has received a number of threat calls from the village authorities since then but will continue to fight the case as they are anyway left with nothing.
When asked about the rape cases, an official from the Special Investigation Team (SIT), said, "We are reading through the FIRs. Over 500 complaints were registered after the clashes; it will take time to investigate all of them."
Meanwhile, even as political leaders raise the issue of children dying in the relief camps due to cold, the state administration has done little to facilitate them with blankets and medical help. According to organisations running the camps, state leaders have not visited the place until now.
As of now, over 50 children have died in these camps because of pneumonia. At the Loi camp, 13 children and four adults have died because of the cold.
However, the police said that they were doing their best to save people from the cold. "We tried to shift the people from the camps to nearby schools which are not functioning currently. But they were ready to go as they are insecure about being separated from others in the camp. They would rather face the cold in these camps that are covered with tarpaulin sheets," said a senior police official.
Around 40,000 people were uprooted from 162 villages in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Baghpat districts. While most of the Baghpat villagers have returned home, victims from the other two districts are still living in relief camps run by Muslim organisations in various places.