New Delhi police try to suppress alleged rape & murder of dalit minor

After Hathras, family of another dalit victim denied right to last rites

November 3, 2020

/ By and / New Delhi

Human rights activists joined in a protest by the family of a young dalit girl that had allegedly been raped and killed in New Delhi on October 4.

Weeks after the gruesome rape and murder of a dalit girl in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh, another similar incident has emerged in the national capital. A 17-year-old dalit girl, who worked as a house help in the Model Town locality, in North-west Delhi was allegedly raped and killed at her workplace on October 4.

The family of the victim says that even though it has been more than 20 days since the incident, the police have refused to register the case and instead have been harassing them mentally and physically. “Delhi Police refused to file a first information report on the death. Its personnel say it was a suicide, even without waiting for the results of the forensic examination. We have been brutally beaten by the police and kept in the lockup overnight,” Kusum, the foster mother of the victim, tells Media India Group. “The police did not allow us to take the body home and instead pressured us into quickly cremating the body,” she adds.

After several failed attempts to get an FIR registered, the family along with the help of a few student organisations protested outside office of DCP North West, in Ashok Vihar, New Delhi, to demand justice for the 17-year-old girl who belonged to the Nishad community (a Dalit community).

The family members allege that the girl was raped and murdered by the son and driver of the landlady who she was supposed to be taking care of. They say that she began working there on September 26. The aunt of the deceased says that on the day of the incident, October 4, she received a call from her asking her to rush there and help her. However, she could not give any details as the landlady was next to her and the girl was not able to talk.

The same evening Kusum was asked by the family of the landlady to go urgently to their house as the victim had ‘locked herself in a room and was not opening the door. “When I reached over there, I found several police personnel there and I felt anxious as I was worrying about my niece,’’ Kusum tells Media India Group.

“When I asked them that I wanted to immediately see my niece, the police did not allow me and just told me that I will get to see her soon. First they asked me several questions about the victim and our family and then they took me towards the room where she was supposed to be. From outside the room, I thought I could see her standing up, but when I went in, I was horrified to see that she was hanging from the ceiling,” says Kusum.

The family says that the police did not hand over the body of the deceased even four days after the death and called the family for a quick cremation, refusing to handover the body so that it could be taken back to their native village for the last rites.

“We are from the Nishad community and in our community women are not allowed to perform the last rites. However, when we told the police that we want to take her body to our home for the last rites they didn’t allow us to do that. Instead they pushed me in a van with her body for the last rites and said we are anyway going to burn her-with or without you,” says Suman, another aunt of the victim.

Since then, the family of the victim has been fighting for justice, but without any luck as the police refused to even register an FIR and began dismissing the death as a suicide without any forensic evidence.

This is not the first time that police have tried to suppress the rape and murder of a dalit girl. The New Delhi case has many similarities with the Hathras rape and murder case where another dalit girl was raped and murdered last month. The fight for justice in that case also has been going on since.

According to a report by National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) – National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, crimes against dalits increased by 6 pc from 2009 to 2018 with over 3,91,000 atrocities being reported, at the same time gaps in implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and the 1995 rules framed under it remained. The report, said that the crime rate against those belonging to Scheduled Tribes recorded a decrease of around 1.6 pc, with a total of 72,367 crimes being recorded in 2009-2018.

The latest National Crime Records Bureau data show an increase of 7.3 pc in crimes against scheduled castes with 45,935 cases in 2019, up from 42,793 cases in 2018. Uttar Pradesh alone accounts for over 25 pc of the total cases by recording the highest number of atrocities against the dalits in the country. Rape constituted 7.6 pc of all cases of crimes against the dalits.