19-year-old’s gang rape is an assault on everything Haryana’s women have achieved: CM Khattar must ensure justice to her

The girl was abducted and raped on her way to coaching class.

 |  3-minute read |   15-09-2018
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A 19-year-old, who could have been a fitting ambassador for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme, is right now petrified about venturing from the four walls of her home.

This extraordinarily bright young girl, who is pursuing a bachelor’s program in science, became yet another victim of the extreme misogyny that, depressingly, continues to prevail across the Haryanvi hinterland. 

in the past four years, under the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government, the state has seen 37,161 crimes against women.In the past four years, Haryana has seen 37,161 crimes against women — more than 26 crimes a day. (Photo: PTI/file)

She was waylaid, abducted and gang-raped while on her way to a coaching class in Kanina Khas, a little township in Haryana’s Mahendergarh district. Her assailants, like in several similar instances in the state, were young men she recognised and knew as neighborhood boys. Trusting them enough to accept a sip of water from them, she found herself losing consciousness, only to awaken at a spot far enough from the township for her cries of distress to go unheard.

Describing her ordeal, the girl has told the police they took turns raping her, after forcing her to drink some more of the intoxicant-laced water so she couldn’t resist their assault. They later dropped her off, battered and barely conscious, at a local bus stop. 

The police have identified her alleged assailants as an army jawan on leave, a local wrestler, and a local college student.

Distressingly, there’s a good chance the men did what they did to give the girl this chilling message: no matter how hard she studied and how much she excelled, she would never be safe in Haryana. 

Consider this: in the past four years, under the Manohar Lal Khattar-led government, the state has seen 37,161 crimes against women, including rape, abduction and molestation. That, incredulously, is more than 26 cognisable crimes against Haryanvi women every single day! 

And this situation prevails not just in the relatively less patrolled rural hinterland. Gurugram, which is touted as the ‘Millenium City’, and Faridabad, have the highest reported incidence of such crimes, with 3,768 and 3,440 reported cases of sexual assault. 

Haryana Police officers at Kanina told visiting reporters that the victim had known the army man for some months, evidently alluding to more than a nodding relationship. Are they actually trying to suggest that the crime was any less horrific because she knew one of her assailants? 

CM Khattar has said the law will take its own course, He needs to do much more than that. CM Khattar has said the law will take its own course. He needs to do much more than that. (Photo: PTI/file)

Mainly because of her academic achievements, the girl’s plight has caught the media’s attention in a manner that Khattar and his government cannot wish away. 

Haryana’s Women’s Commission has stepped in, and has said it will closely monitor police investigations into the case. The victim has temporarily been given protection within a government hospital, where doctors are supervising her recovery. 

Chief minister Khattar has said that the “law will take its own course and whoever is found guilty will be punished.”

He needs to do more than that.

He must ensure that the young victim is protected and gets the counseling she needs to get past her trauma. 

He needs to understand that the assault on the 19-year-old in Kanina is an assault on everything Haryana’s women — from Kalpana Chawla to Manushi Chhillar, Santosh Yadav to the Phogat sisters and Sakshi Malik — have so brilliantly achieved in the recent years. It is also threatens to completely undermine the state’s recent successes in improving sex ratios and learning levels in schools.

Also read: Sorry, but rape is a political issue in India

Writer

Asit Jolly Asit Jolly @asitjolly

Journalist with India Today magazine.

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