February 29, 2012
The CBI on Wednesday named sacked Rajasthan minister Mahipal Maderna and Congress MLA Malkhan Singh as the main accused in the second charge sheet filed in the Bhanwari Devi case, accusing them of abduction and murder.
In the 97-page supplementary charge sheet filed in the CBI court in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, Mr. Maderna and Mr. Singh have been charged under Sections 302 (murder), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 364 (abduction), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence or giving false information to screen offender) of IPC and SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Eight others — Sahiram, Parasram, Amarchand, Umesharam, Bishnaram, Kailash, Ashok and Omprakash — have also been named as accused in the charge sheet.
The agency had filed the first charge sheet in the case in December last year against Sohan, Shahbuddin and Balia.
Investigations against Pukhraj, Dinesh, Reshmaram and Mr. Singh’s sister Indira Bishnoi are pending, the agency said.
The CBI examined 300 witnesses in the case and the charge sheet has 93 articles and 317 annexures.
Bhanwari, 36, had gone missing from Jodhpur’s Bilara area on September 1 last year following which her husband had filed a habeas corpus petition in the High Court.
After the State government ordered a CBI probe into the case, the agency arrested Mr. Maderna on December 3 and Mr. Singh on December 19 for their alleged involvement in the case.
Soon after her death, a sleaze CD was circulated allegedly featuring Mr. Maderna and Bhanwari.
Mr. Maderna was removed by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot from his ministry in October after his name cropped up in the case.
Another Bhanwari Devi of the same state
Despite the progress women have made over the last few decades, there are still some whose wrongs have not been redressed. Bhanwari Devi, who was gang raped in Rajasthan in 1992, is one such. With International Women’s Day on March 8, bestselling author PINKI VIRANI’S exclusive preview of “Bawandar” (“Sandstorm” in English) is timely. The film, based on Bhanwari Devi’s story, has won appreciation abroad, but is being held up by the censors in New Delhi.
THINK about her – a woman in her mid-50s, Bhanwari Devi, in a forgettable Rajasthan village – as you read this. She is hunched over a potter’s wheel right now, making pots. No one buys her pots anymore, but work she must, for she needs to hope. Think about Bhanwari Devi, at her clay-caked wheel, her case pending in the high court as she awaits justice. She was gang-raped in 1992; her medical examination was conducted 52 hours after the rape; two years later the trial began in a lower court; five judges were inexplicably changed, the sixth found the accused not guilty in 1995.
Bhanwari still lives in the same village as her five upper-caste rapists. The State’s MLA even organised a victory rally in Jaipur for the five who got away; the women’s wing of that political party attended the rally to call Bhanwari, among other things, a liar. Bhanwari hopes the potter’s wheel will turn in her favour.
The rapists offered her compensation (in 1994) to withdraw the case. Her reply was: “Tell our village elders you raped me, restore my dignity.” The rapists refused. Her brothers felt she should have settled and they broke all ties with her. Her older son and daughter-in-law, as well as her in-laws, followed suit. Her husband – otherwise supportive, warm, caring – took time to accept his family falling apart. Bhanwari turns the potter’s wheel; inspite of all those bravery awards she has received: the Rs. 10,000 given to her by the then Prime Minister, Mr. Narasimha Rao, the standing ovation she got in Delhi where she said, “Manney nyaay chahiye,” she is just a woman asking her country to be just.
Think about Bhanwari, thank her. She is the reason why every Indian woman is now covered, legally, against sexual harassment at work. After her gang-rape, some committed Delhi women took up the issue of sexual harassment at the work place and followed it through legally. Bhanwari was a saathin, a grassroots worker, recruited in 1985 because she needed the money.
Contentedly married as a child-bride herself, she had no personal reason to oppose child marriages or gender biases. But when she accepted the paltry salary, she took professional charge, reporting on upcoming child marriages to her seniors who would inform the police. The villagers reacted by refusing her water from the well and to sell her milk. On September 22, 1992, at 6 p.m. those men raped her. In a year and a half’s time, it is going to be a decade for a woman waiting for justice.
SOURCE OF INFORMATION: APPARENTLY QUITE TRUSTWORTHY SITES OF INTERNET LIKE NEWSPAPERS (MOSTLY). These two items are just typed from The Hindu, newspaper. The only question that arises to my mind after reading the incidents of 14,28 and 28th march is, if rapists are hanged to death, will these ministers be hanging too?