Urgent Appeal: Assam police harass and threaten a rape victim

BARAK HUMAN RIGHTS PROTECTION COMMITTEE

Urgent Appeal No. BHRPC Case No 60/2011/UA/23/210 Dated: 10 February 2011

Dear Friends,

Acting on the information provided by Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued the following Urgent Appeal concerning the case of assault of a 24 year-old-girl and her mother by the police in Cachar district, Assam. Please take the suggested actions.

Yours sincerely

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Urgent Appeal Desk

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee

Rongpur, Silchar-9, Assam, India

INDIA: Assam police harass and threatened a rape victim

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-024-2011

To take actions please click here

8 February 2011
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INDIA: Assam police harass and threatened a rape victim

ISSUES: Violence against woman; rape; assault; police corruption
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), Assam concerning the case of rape of a 20 year-old-woman by her father-in-law. The victim was raped because she belongs to a poor family and was unable to provide the dowry during the time of her marriage. A complaint was then lodged to the local police station but to-date no action has been taken. Instead, the victim was threatened by the investigating officer to withdraw the complaint.

CASE NARRATIVE:

On December 2009, Mrs. Sonia (name changed) aged about twenty years was married to Mr. Pabitra Das. Sonia’s husband Pabitra does not have any proper source of income for their livelihood. He sells low quality ornaments in remote villages. Sonia’s father-in-law, Mr. Haricharan Das is a widower and works as a teacher in a government school.

Sonia belongs to a poor family and her father Mr. Dondodhar Das could not provide a sufficient dowry during the time of her marriage. Sonia alleged that after four/five months after her marriage, hers husband’s family demanded Rs. 50,000/= and a bicycle as dowry. When Sonia expressed her father’s inability to provide the demanded dowry, the entire husband family gradually started subjecting Sonia to mental and physical harassment. This was perpetrated mainly by Sonia’s father-in-law.

Sonia’s husband, and his unemployed younger brother Mr. Jayanta Das, used to leave home early in the morning everyday in search of work and return around 10pm. Sonia alleged that her father-in-law Haricharan beat her one day in his son’s absence and forced Sonia to have sex with him. This incident left Sonia traumatised. Sonia was at her wit’s end and could not tell anyone out of shame, disgust and fear. She has since been compelled to have sex with her father-in-law on several occasions.

The conditions became unbearable for Sonia that finally she told everything to her husband. Pabitra, instead of trusting his wife, hurled verbal abuse at her and accused Sonia of trying to malign his father and his relatives with the intension of breaking up the family. Sonia could no longer endure the agony and anguish and returned to her maternal home on July 2010. Sonia told her father and mother about the demand of dowry, ill-treatment and cruelty towards her but did not tell them of rape and molestation by her father-in-law.

Sonia’s father Dondodhar thought it was a normal wear and tear of conjugal life or at most a little ill-treatment for dowry. Dondodhar insisted that his daughter reconcile with her husband and their family so that She could start a new life, forgetting the past incidents. Dondodhar along with other village elders went to Haricharan’s house to discuss all matters other than the sexual harassment of his daughter Sonia. Sonia was then told by her father to stay with her husband and their family after the discussion.

It is reported that on September 2010 Haricharan with his whole family moved to Dhoomkar village from Salimabad. The place was new for Sonia and she did not know anyone. At this juncture, Haricharan once again started sexually assaulting his daughter-in-law. When Sonia could no longer bear to keep quiet and suffer in silence she told her husband on 29 November 2010. Pabitra became furious as he was already convinced of his father’s innocence and started beating Sonia. Sonia’s father-in-law and brother-in-law, Jayanta, joined him in assaulting Sonia.

Sonia alleged that the three men were trying to kill her and later that night at around 10 pm managed to escape the house. The father and sons tried to follow Sonia but could not trace her in the darkness. Mr. Somorendra Deb, resident of Dhoomkar and other passers-by including Ms. Ratna Das, President of Korkori Gaon Panchayat and Mr. Narat Lal Das, Vice-president of Korkori Gaon Panchayat found Sonia, gave her shelter, and informed the local police.

It is reported that on 30 November 2010 Sonia lodged a complaint to the Kalain police outpost but it was not registered in the police station. Therefore, Sonia filed two other complaints in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Silchar on 6 December 2010. The CJM clubbed both the complaints together and directed the Katigorah Police Station (PS) to register a First Information Report (FIR) and investigate the case.

Thereafter, an FIR was registered at Katigorah PS as Case no. 666/10 under Sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against Sonia’s husband Pabitra, brother-in-law Jayanta and Haricharan, father-in-law. Mr. Prabhat Saikia, a Sub-Inspector of Police and In-Charge of Kalain police outpost was made the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case.

However, the police did not take any actions to investigate the case based on the FIR. Instead, the IO met the victim, Sonia, and pressured her to withdraw the complaint and to settle the matter amicably. Sonia alleged that the IO threatened to render her family beggars and homeless if she continued to pursue the case in courts or any other legal forums.

On 30 December 2010, Sonia wrote a written complaint to the district Superintendent of Police (SP) about the misconduct of the IO and requested the SP to intervene in investigating her case. There has been no response or action from the SP as yet on Sonia’s complaint.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the authorities mentioned below expressing your concern in this case and urge them to ensure legal redress to the victim.

The AHRC is writing separate letter of concern to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, calling for an intervention in this case.

To take actions please click here

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: The rape of a 20-year-old woman must be investigated and prosecuted

Name of victim: Mrs. Sonia (name changed) aged about 20 years, resident of village Korkori Part-III, Kalain under Katigorah Police Station, Cachar district, Assam state
Names of alleged perpetrators:
1. Mr. Pabitra Das, Sonia’s husband
2. Mr. Haricharan Das, Sonia’s father-in-law
3. Mr. Jayanta Das, Sonia’s brother-in-law
All residents of Dhoomkar village under the jurisdiction of Katigorah Police Station, Cachar district
Date of incident: Between July – November 2010
Place of incident: Dhoomkar village, Kalain under Katigorah Police Station, Cachar district

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the rape case of Sonia (name changed), a 20 year old woman by her father-in-law. I am informed that Sonia was raped because she belongs to a poor family and her family could not provide the dowry during the time of her marriage. Sonia was married on December 2009 to Mr. Pabitra Das. Sonia alleged that after four to five months after her marriage her husband’s family demanded Rs.50,000 and a bicycle as dowry. When Sonia expressed her father’s inability to provide the demanded dowry, the entire husband family gradually started subjecting Sonia to mental and physical harassment. This was being perpetrated mainly by Sonia’s father-in-law.

I am informed that Sonia’s husband Pabitra sells low quality ornaments in remote villages to earn money. Pabitra and his younger brother Mr. Jayanta Das used to leave home early in the morning and return around 10pm everyday in search of a job. Sonia’s father-in-law Mr. Haricharan Das is a widower and works as a teacher in a government school. Sonia alleged that her father-in-law beat her one day on his son’s absence and force her in sexual submission. This incident left Sonia shattered at the core and traumatised. Since then Sonia was at her wit’s end and could not tell anyone out of shame, disgust and fear and was compelled to have sex with her father-in-law several times.

I am informed that the conditions became unbearable for Sonia that she told everything to her husband. Pabitra, instead of trusting his wife, he verbally abused her and accused Sonia of trying to malign his father and relatives with the intension of breaking up the family. Sonia could no longer endure the agony and anguish and returned to her maternal home on July 2010. Sonia told her father and mother about the demand of dowry, ill-treatment and cruelty towards her but did not tell them of rape and molestation by her father-in-law. Sonia’s father Dondodhar thought it was a normal wear and tear of conjugal life or at most a little ill-treatment for dowry.

I am informed that Dondodhar insisted on his daughter Sonia to reconcile with her husband and their family so that Sonia can start a new life forgetting the past incidents. Dondodhar along with other village elders went to Haricharan’s house and discuss all matters other than the sexual harassment of his daughter Sonia. Sonia was then told by her father to stay with her husband and their family after the discussion.

I am informed that on September 2010 Haricharan with his whole family has moved to Dhoomkar village from Salimabad. The place was new for Sonia and the neighbours were unacquainted. At this juncture, Haricharan once again started sexually assaulting his daughter-in-law Sonia. When Sonia could no longer bear to keep quiet and suffer, she told her husband on 29 November 2010. Pabitra, Sonia’s husband, got furious as he was already convinced by his father and started beating Sonia. Pabitra’s father Haricharan and his younger brother Jayanta joined him in assaulting Sonia.

Sonia alleged that she was trying to kill by father-sons trio during an assault. Sonia managed to escape her husband’s house the same night around 10pm. The father-sons trio followed Sonia but could not trace her in the darkness. Mr. Somorendra Deb, resident of Dhoomkar and other passers-by including Ms. Ratna Das, President of Korkori Gaon Panchayat and Mr. Narat Lal Das, Vice-president of Korkori Gaon Panchayat found Sonia, gave her shelter, and informed the local police.

I am informed that on 30 November 2010 Sonia lodged a complaint to the Kalain police outpost but it was not registered in the police station. Therefore, Sonia filed two other complaints in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Silchar on 6 December 2010. The CJM clubbed both the complaints together and directed the Katigorah Police Station (PS) to register a First Information Report (FIR) and investigate the case.

I am informed that thereafter an FIR was registered at Katigorah PS as Case no. 666/10 under Sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against Sonia’s husband Pabitra, brother-in-law Jayanta and Haricharan, father-in-law. Mr. Prabhat Saikia, a Sub-Inspector of Police and In-Charge of Kalain police outpost was made the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case.

However, the police did not take any action to investigate the case based on the FIR. Instead, the IO met the victim, Sonia, and pressured her to withdraw the complaint and to settle the matter amicably. Sonia alleged that the IO threatened to render her family beggars and homeless if she continued to pursue the case in courts or any other legal forums.

I am informed that again on 30 December 2010, Sonia wrote a written complaint to the district Superintendent of Police (SP) about the misconduct of the IO and to seek his intervention in investigating her case. There has been no response or action from the SP as yet on Sonia’s complaint.

I therefore request you to intervene in this case to ensure the following:

1. The police must immediately record the statement of the victim;
2. Should there be any request from the victim for protection against further threat, the police must provide the same to the victim;
3. The statements of other witnesses in the incident are to be recorded by the police without any further delay;
4. The suspicious conduct of the police officer who is in charge of the investigation of the case must be investigated by a superior officer and if the inquiry finds that the officer is at fault, he must be punished;
5. A female officer must investigate the case

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Justice S. Barman Roy
Chairperson
Assam Human Rights Commission
STATFED H.O. Building, GMC Road
Bhangagarh, Guwahati
Pin – 781005, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2529450, 2527076
Email: hrca@sancharnet.in

2. Mrs. Krishna Tirath
Minister of State
Ministry of Women and Child Development
Shastri Bhavan, Jeevandeep Building
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23074052, 23074053, 23074054

3. Mr. Tarun Gogoi
Chief Minister of Assam
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2262069

4. Chief Secretary
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2260900
Email: psccy_it@assam.nic.in

5. Director General of Police
Assam, Ulubari
Guwahati-7, Assam
INDIA

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

To take actions please click here

Posted on 2011-02-08

AHRC URL: http://www.ahrchk.net/ua/mainfile.php/2011/3649/

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