Sunday, October 7, 2012

    “Today we need all concerned to raise the bar of justice as it was done rightfully six years ago for Jessica Lal” states Asha Kotwal, Dalit Activist

New Delhi, 5 Oct 12:  The National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) and it’s allied organization the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDAM), which had set up a high level fact finding mission to probe the recent incident in which a 16 year old dalit girl was gang raped by high caste youth in Hissar, in Haryana, on 9th September, addressed the media in the Capital today.

While releasing the report of the Fact-finding Committee, Ms. Asha Kowtal, General Secretary, AIDMAM said, “Today we need civil society to stand up and express the same degree of anger and shame we saw six years ago during the nation-wide campaign to seek justice for Jessica Lal.” The growing incidence of violence on dalit women and girls is irrefutable proof of the colossal failure of the state to protect them, she added.

The high level Fact-Finding team comprised of Advocate Seema Misra, Multiple Action Research Group (MARG); Advocate Ambalika; Dr. Ajitha, Women Against Sexual Harassment and State Repression (WSS); Ms. Pradnya Deshpande, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL); Ms. Sunitha Thakore, Jagori; Mr. Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Forum; Ms. Asha Kowtal, General Secretary of AIDMAM; Ms. Sumati, JNU; Ms. Abirami, National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ); Ms. Savitha, State Secretary, AIDMAM-Haryana; Mr. Rajesh, State Secretary, NDMJ-Haryana.

S.P Chalia, Haryana Pradesh Chamar Mahasabha, criticized the National Commission for Schedule Caste & Schedule Tribe and National Commission for Women for their indifferent attitude and delayed response, saying,   “It is obvious that when it comes to the demand for justice there are different standards for different sections of society”.  He also lamented the fact that the incident came to light on 19th September a good ten days after it happened because, “The greater the delay, the greater is the possibility of destruction of vital evidence”. According to him what was most telling about the response to the incident is the fact that the members of National Commission for Women have not even visited the girl’s family.

Speaking about the protection of the victim, Seema Mishra, MARG stated that the “greatest need of the hour is to ensure the safety of the victim so that she can depose without any fear or pressure.”

Dr SDJM Prasad, General Secretary (NDMJ), noted, "Though the Prevention of Atrocities Act was passed 23 years ago, such incidents continue to take place and the dominant caste and perpetrators are able to get away with impunity! The time has come for all democratic forces to come together and end such atrocities, casteism, untouchability and protect Democracy!"

“Even after 63 years of independence, we have not been able to provide safety to the dalit women of our country. Why are judiciary, state, society and media maintaining silence on the exploitation that the dalit women are facing? In a free country why a dalit woman who is also a free citizen can’t enjoy the safety and equality?” rued, Vimal Thorat-Convenor, AIDMAM.

The dalit community has reacted very adversely to the incident and gone to the extent of pulling their daughters out of schools and colleges.

The disillusionment and anger of the community of dalits was evident in their statements to the fact finding team. “We don’t have the means to fight. Even if we protest peacefully, we are booked under sedition” lamented the dalits of the village while recollecting the Mirchpur case in which Rajat Kalsan, a lawyer was charged with sedition and foisted with a false case of homicide and attempt to murder.

Moved by the courage of the dalit and women’s rights groups in Hissar, who came forward to form a strong support group the victim and her family, the members of the fact finding team extended their long term support to the dalits.

Presently the response of the government has been as follows:

Ø  Total 11 accused arrested till now;
Ø  Rs 65,000 paid as compensation to the victim;
Ø  Government job announced to the victim's brother;
Ø  Police protection has been provided to the victim:
Ø  Administration has promised to bear her educational expenses still she completes her higher studies;
Ø  Counseling has been provided to the victim

 For more information please contact:
Beena, NCDHR at 99587.97404 and Farah: 95605 11667

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