In the second part of our Valentine Month special, we delve into the phenomenon of ‘prem-prasang’ or love-affair, a label that sweeps sinister things under the carpet in U.P. “If…
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On Valentine’s Day, Khabar Lahariya brings you our unruly meditations on the weddings we have known, Bundelkhandi style! In July 2019 Khabar Lahariya went to a ‘special Bundelkhandi wedding’. We…
We begin with death. In Bundelkhand when cattle die, it is not customary to let the bodies remain in the village. The carcasses are deposited on the outskirts, and a…
In 1977 the telephone booths and walls of New York city found themselves plastered with sheets of paper bearing truisms. Listed alphabetically, a chorus of one-liner claims in all caps…
Oh, 2020. As a now (in)famous meme goes, What is this behaviour? In 2020’s last episode of Sound, Fury & 4G, we take stock of the uncharted territory that all…
In July this year Ritika Gupta of Ayodhya-Faizabad, as she calls her home of hyphenated identity, had a million followers on TikTok. She had finally figured out how to convert…
EXCERPT: The man at the other end of the line offers to pay. His voice is crackly, he has left Karwi where he drives a rickshaw for his village near Koshambi in U.P. these days. He will return soon for a court-date, he says. He does not know the name of his lawyer. No, they have not received government compensation yet but they have heard talk that such a thing as muafza (compensation) exists.
“Thoda help kar dijiye. Agar humko mil jaaye toh hum aap ko bhi…” (Please help us a little. If we get it, you too—)
“No, no,” the reporter interrupts. “We’re not that kind of mediahouse. I will find out.”
After a few pleasantries she asks, “Main pooch rahi thi bitiya waale case mein hua kya fir?” (I was asking, what happened in the case of your daughter?)
“After approaching the Superintendent (SP) and then the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police, the perpetrator is currently in jail.”
“Aur dhaaraye kaunsi lagi hain?” (What sections have been registered?)
“POCSO, teensochihattar (376).”
These two questions and this uncomfortable probing of a delicate situation mark an all too frequent conversation for reporters at Khabar Lahariya. And teensochihattar which dots such conversations is a reference to section 376 of the Indian Penal Code, which determines the punishment for rape.
How to tell a rape story?
It depends on whom you ask. There is a sensationalist, voyeuristic lens that feeds a harmful media frenzy as KL reported in September from Hathras. The brutal rape and murder of 19 year old Manisha, a Dalit girl from the Valmiki caste, brought a plague of reporters to the grieving family’s home from across the country. Some months later, the country it seems has moved on. This is characteristic of such ‘episodic’ reporting of rape — that focuses on the details of cases that hit the national radar, mentioning the degree of assault, the events that transpired, often rife with speculation about the victim. It may involve dramatic recreations on TV and feed a public hunger for ‘justice’, leading on occasion to execution based on flimsy evidence— as in the Dhananjay case of 2004 in Kolkata.
In Uttar Pradesh where the statistics on violence against women balloon every year, Khabar Lahariya has done more than its fair share of rape-reporting. After an assault, if the survivor or their family wants to seek legal redress there are certain established steps through the police and courts: registration of a First Information Report (FIR) at the police station, a medicolegal case report from the hospital, taking the accused into custody, a police investigation, a court case, government compensation for the survivor or victim’s family.
However this stairway is marked by two unwritten yet clearly established categories: sexual assault where the victim is from a dominant caste and sexual assault where the victim is from a Dalit, OBC or Adivasi background. For the latter, this stairway comes with many stumbles, roadblocks and often mortal danger. Here we look at the various steps along the way where families from marginalised castes have been thwarted in seeking justice.
When the police chases you away instead of registering an FIR
For the OBC family of a 13 year old schoolgirl abducted on 22 February in the town of Mau in Chitrakoot district of Uttar Pradesh, their requests to investigate went unheeded by the Mau police station. “Jao, bhaag jao yahaan se (Go on, get out of here)” the police told them.
The week before Diwali in Bundelkhand, Khabar Lahariya senior reporter, Nazni Rizvi has set out to understand what it’s like to be a resident of a physical space that is saturated with the mythological memory of three former residents in exile.
Even in 2020, centuries later, everyone here knows the story of Ram, his brother Lakshman and wife Sita who called Chitrakoot home for 11 to 14 years (depending on whom you ask) during their exile from the kingdom of Ayodhya. Naved prattles off easily: “After 14 years of exile Ramji returned to Chitrakoot … when he defeated Raavan and returned, all the people of the kingdom lit lamps and celebrated. This is what we call Diwali, and this is what we all have been celebrating since then.”
Shubham Mani Tripathi of Kanpur was an avid user of Facebook. After the Coronavirus lockdown in March, he promptly updated his profile picture with a Tricolour filter, hashtagged #ImStayingHome. Newly…
In Mahoba’s Kabrai, on 8 July, Shobha found herself widowed as her husband took his life due to tension about shortage of food, and the marriage of his young daughters.…