No justice for Bihar gang rape victim who exposed MGNREGS scam

Village gives up hope after police fail to arrest culprits, file cases against activists seeking justice

By Alok Gupta
Published: Thursday 19 September 2013

Residents of the entire Mandai Khurd village in Muzaffarpur have been waiting in vain for justice for the 45-year-old activist who was gang raped and killed on March 27 this year.  The residents had staged violent protests for nearly a week after the incident. Police had resorted to baton charge and had imposed ban on people assembling to maintain peace in the area.

The residents were demanding prompt arrests and action as in the case of Delhi gang rape case in which four of the convicts were sentenced to death by the trial court last week. People in Mandain Khurd have given up hope now. “This is not Delhi. In this village everyone knows the truth but for known reasons they remain silent,” a group of villagers said. Family members of the victim have been given a compensation of Rs 5 lakh, but the culprits are still roaming seven months after the incident, they added. The victim was protesting against the irregularities in the implementation of the MGNREGA schemes in her area. She had also taken on the liquor mafia in the area.

Rinku Devi, district secretary of Akhil Bharatiya Janwadi Mahila Samiti who led the protests by the village, claims that police has lodged over a dozen cases against the activists involved in the protests.

“Three cases have been lodged against me,” said Rinku. All the activists have either fled the village fearing arrest and torture by police. Majority of the activists are women. These women had retrieved pieces of cloth, bamboo sticks and pebbles from the genital area of the victim and had handed over the evidence to the police in the presence of entire village; yet no action was taken.

“The victim was not only raped and murdered but she was also gruesomely tortured, and the evidence was shown to the police,” said Ram Pukhari, another activist.

Activists also pointed out that entire village knows the name of the rapists, only police is unaware of it. They said the same influential landlords who killed the activist had publicly set on fire Rajkumari Devi and Munna Sah in Bataspur village for marrying against the wishes of the family. Bataspur is barely four kilometre from Mandai Khurd.

Cases lodged against the activists coupled with threats made by influential landlords have forced the villagers into silence.

Saurabh Kumar, senior superintendent of police (SSP), told Down To Earth that the culprits have not been arrested because victim’s family cremated the body before lodging the FIR and crucial evidence was lost. “We are trying to track the culprits and action is being taken,” said Kumar, adding that police will soon crack the case.

Rinku Devi said three petitions have been submitted to the SSP, demanding arrest of the accused and absolving activists of false charges, but that nothing has happened so far.

Husband of the victim is living under immense pressure. He has refused to talk to activists or media persons. The gruesome rape and murder took place when he was returning with his wife after attending a social function.

Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS): Government of Bihar

The great MNREGA robbery

Everyday corruption and the political mediation of the Indian state - An ethnographic exploration of brokers in Bihar

Supreme Court order dated 12/05/2011 in the matter W.P (C) No. 645 of 2007 Centre for Environment & Food Security Vs Union of India & Ors for the proper implementation of MGNREG Act, 2005

How to overcome the governance challenges of implementing NREGA

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