Last week, on the 25th of July, a Class 12 girl allegedly committed suicide after being constantly harassed by some local boys, in Hamirpur district‘s Binwar village, bringing the entire district to a halt. Curfew was imposed and several police officials including the District Superintendent of Police were suspended in the wake of public anger and agitation. The case has become another marker of Uttar Pradesh’s dismal record on crimes against women.
Speaking to this reporter, the girl’s distraught mother Kiran Khare said, ‘She had gone early in the morning for her coaching classes but she returned home in less than an hour. She was looking very distraught and after some time told me that some boys from the village had teased her on the way. When she resisted, they even beat her up.’ According to Kiran Khare, the girl’s father and uncle had left the house to take up the matter with the boys when the girl set herself on fire. ‘We rushed her first to the Police Station from where they told us to take her to the hospital. The FIR for the matter was finally lodged at another Police Station in Maudaha area of the district,’ she said. While on her way to the District Hospital, the girl passed away.
Kiran Khare, in her statement to the media, alleged that Jitendra Yadav, Bhoora and another boy were involved in the matter of sexual harassment that led to her daughter’s death. The news of the girl’s death spread and crowds from Binwar and other nearby villages marched and staged a protest with the girl’s dead body present at the scene. The local police launched a lathi charge and bullets were fired into the air to control and disperse the crowds. In the chaos, three boys were injured, two of whom later passed away and the third one is recuperating. As the police claimed that the firing was not targetted at anyone, the situation only grew worse. Angry mobs set police vehicles on fire.
Meanwhile, the girl’s father has alleged that the police forced him to sign some papers and disposed of the girl’s body along with that of the deceased boys by throwing them in a river. The police did not offer any details and informed media persons that both Jitendra Yadav and Bhoora (sons of Karan Yadav) had been arrested. Sections 304 (culpable homicide), 306 (abetment to suicide), 323 (causing hurt), 354 B (use of criminal force to sexually assault a woman) have been slapped on the accused. 34 persons who were allegedly involved in the rioting have been booked and 17 of them were taken into police custody. In a hasty move to pacify the villagers, the state government announced a compensation of 5 lakh rupees for the families of each of the deceased. A compensation of 1 lakh rupees has been announced for the families of those who have been injured. DIG Gyaneshwar Tiwari said, ‘The atmosphere in the village continues to be tense. PAC personnel have been deployed in the area.’
Even as many residents said that such cases of sexual harassment were common in the area, police records showed that no such complaints have been reported over the last 6 months. Even so, according to the latest data from the National Crimes Records Bureau, the reported number of crimes against women have risen consistently over the last 5 years. 20,569 cases were reported in 2012 alone. The figure grew even more abysmal in 2013 when Uttar Pradesh reported 32,546 cases of crimes against women, accounting for 10.5% of the share of such crimes at a national level. Despite the reputation gained after the Badaun incident of last year, the Akhilesh Yadav government has failed to restrain any of these crimes. In fact, recently, the son of a Samajwadi Party leader was named as an accused in a gangrape case in Badaun. No official comment was made by the Chief Minister on the matter.
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