Dalit Woman's Harassment Case Cost 3 Lives In A Year - Including Her Own

The woman's death has sparked a scathing attack by the Congress on the Mohan Yadav-led BJP government

Dalit Woman's Harassment Case Cost 3 Lives In A Year - Including Her Own

Last year's video of the woman crying over her brother's body has now resurfaced


In a stark reminder that tall claims and taller promises during election season fly in the face of ground realities, a Dalit family's fight for justice in a harassment case in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar has claimed three lives in less than a year -- the latest of the complainant.

The woman, now 20, filed a police case in 2019 against four men, alleging that they had harassed, threatened and assaulted her. According to the FIR, the complainant, then 15, was out for ablutions when Azad Thakur, Vishal Thakur, Pushpendra Thakur and Chotu Raikwar verbally abused her. Vishal Thakur, the woman alleged, also slapped her and threatened her against going to the cops. IPC sections relating to criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt were invoked, along with provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Coming months before the 2020 Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, the case became a subject of heated political exchanges between the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress. 

Then the elections were over, and the accused's families started pressuring the woman to withdraw her complaint. The family refused. In August last year, a mob of hundreds beat the woman's 18-year-old brother to death. The complainant was also assaulted and her mother stripped when she tried to protect her son during the attack. Amid an outrage over the incident, nine people were charged with murder and sections of the stringent SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act were also invoked. Two people were arrested and another long legal fight began. According to the FIR, the accused included Vikram Thakur, Vijay Thakur, Azad Thakur, Komal Thakur, Lalu Khan, Islam Khan, Golu Soni, Nafis Khan and Waheed Khan.  

This Saturday, the woman's uncle, also a witness in the mob murder of her brother, received a call from one Pappu Rajak. Pappu told the woman's uncle that the accused wanted to "settle" the matter. The woman's uncle was asked to retract his testimony. When he refused, both he and Pappu were attacked. The woman's uncle died during treatment, and Pappu's condition is critical.

Following a police complaint by the family, police have registered a murder case against five accused --- Aashiq Qureshi, Bablu Bena, Israel Bena, Faheem Khan and Tantu Qureshi. One of them have been arrested.

For the family, more was to come. On Sunday evening, the woman who filed the sexual harassment case back in 2019 fell to death from the hearse van carrying her uncle's body. She was bringing the body home, but opened the van's door when they were still 20 km away and jumped, according to some reports.

Lokesh Sinha, Additional Superintendent Of Police, said the woman's uncle had died of injuries he suffered in a clash between two groups. "We have registered a case and the matter is under investigation. Now a woman who was in the hearse van fell and die. All facts would come out during the investigation," he said.

The woman's death has sparked a scathing attack by the Congress on the Mohan Yadav-led BJP government over the state's law and order situation. While top Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra targeted the Narendra Modi government over crimes against women, state party leader Digvijaya Singh police didn't act even after the woman alerted them about pressure on the family. State Congress chief Jitu Patwari has demanded a CBI probe.

Amid growing outrage, the Chief Minister is set to visit the victim's family.