Resisting Violence on Women

[The Guwahati mob molestation, the moral policing and molestation by Ram Sene at a party in Mangalore, murderous assaults and feudal sexual violence on women in UP and Bihar, a spate of rapes and the atrocity on athlete Pinki Pramanik in West Bengal, the suicide of Geetika in Haryana, in which ex-Minister Gopal Kanda is implicated – all these recent instances show that the alarming trends of attacks and exploitative relationships which claim the lives of women, are far from abating. And with it, is the inevitable tendency to blame women’s attire and behaviour: a tendency which people in high office from the NCW Chairperson downwards have displayed. Below are some recent reports of struggles against violence on women.]

AIPWA Protests in West Bengal

There has been an alarming escalation of violence against women in Bengal, often at the hands of the state. Some of the worst cases include that Shibani Singha who consumed poison from being raped by Jangalmahal police; of athlete Pinki Pramanik who was humiliated and forced to undergo ‘gender tests’ in a horrific case of sexual abuse in police and medical custody; the murder of Barun Biswas of Sutia who had organised local people in the Pratibadi Mancha against more than 35 cases of rapes of local women committed by those with political influence. Attempts to lodge FIRs are thwarted by police; TMC’s elected representatives (for instance Chiranjeet) dictate dress codes for women, and any protests against this violence are seen by the CM as a conspiracy against her regime.

AIPWA was not permitted to hold a protest rally highlighting these issues on 1st August. The protestors were arrested and kept in Lalbazaar PS. Still, this could not crush the spirit of the protestors who burnt an effigy of the police and administration and raised slogans, sang songs and left a mark of their protest in the lock up by writing slogans and painting ‘protest-art’ on the walls of the lock up.

Subsequently, a series of campaigns were undertaken by the W Bengal unit of AIPWA. A protest was held in front of the College Street Coffee House in Kolkata on 5 July. A demonstration was held at Assam House in Kolkata and a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Assam was sent demanding immediate arrest and punishment for men those involved in the mob assault on a woman in Guwahati. A series of demonstrations were organised against the accused and the OC of Gurap PS for not taking action in the case of a rape of a woman in a government-aided home for mentally challenged women in Gurap, Hooghly district in July.


Notes from Bihar

All hype of women’s empowerment in Bihar under Nitish’s rule is exposed by the increasing instances of crime against women, which the state has shown no interest in checking. The murder of Neelam Sharma, Principal of Ankur Public School, by intruders who entered her home in broad daylight, in the state capital, was reminiscent of the murder of the Papiya Ghosh murder that took place during RJD rule. A woman mukhiya of Kurthaul panchayat near Patna was murdered by intruders in her home in broad daylight. A schoolgirl was gang-raped by four of her classmates, from prominent families of Patna, who circulated an MMS of the rape. They were arrested following an agitation. An AIPWA fact-finding team headed by General Secretary Meena Tiwari visited the site of Neelam Sharma’s murder & called for a Patna bandh in protest against the murder. A team of AIPWA’s Patna rural unit headed by district secretary Leelavati investigated the murder of the Kurthaul mukhiya, and held a protest in which the effigy of the CM was burnt. A joint dharna by women’s groups was held in Patna against the MMS incident. On 8 August, a massive rally was organised in Patna with more than a thousand women protestors venting their anger against rising cases of violence against women. They braved water cannons and efforts of the police to disperse them.

The incident of a young teacher in Maner was especially hair-raising. It is being described as a case of ‘eve-teasing’ by the media. The teacher was also a final year student ofZoology. She had been experiencing harassment by obscene phone calls and stalking for about a month. And one day, four youths accosted her on the street and demanded that she accept their ‘friendship.’ When she refused, they abused her, and physically assaulted when tried to run. They also attempted to rape her. A teacher, Rajesh, from a neighbouring coaching institute ran to her rescue and was beaten black and blue. The girl took shelter in a house, and the goons had the audacity to rap on the door of that house. Eventually when she phoned for help and her family and others gathered, the goons retreated.

And then began the inevitable, and insidious, talk. ‘Why did she need to work, to go outside the house?’ a leader of a Left women’s organisation who came to meet the woman, advised her, “Avoid wearing jeans and T-shirt in future.” The local MLA’s brother advised the woman’s parents, “Ask her to wear salwar-kameez in future.” Private school teachers held a meeting, in which they concluded that “women teachers ought to observe a dress code.” The woman herself says that had she not been wearing jeans that day, the assailants would probably have succeeded in repeating the Guwahati incident and publicly stripping her. But she also says she locked up her pants and shirts in a box the next day. So, yet again, the woman’s clothes became the point of debate rather than this shocking instance of audacious stalking and mob assault in broad daylight on a public street.

AIPWA and CPI(ML) teams met the woman and her family and held a bandh in Maner in protest. OPur team learnt from local people that such incidents are rife in Maner, but few people file cases, fearing getting a ‘bad name.’ There is also a fear of reprisals from criminals. The main accused in this case, Kunal, is also accused in two murders. After he surrendered, his father threatened the complainant and witness, the coaching teacher Rajesh, with murder unless he withdrew the case.

As the law stands today, such a horrific case would only be termed ‘outraging the modesty of a woman’; the perpetrators get bail with no trouble; and the crime carries a penalty of between 3 months to a year. Is this anywhere close to justice for the victim? Ought there not to be more stringent laws for stalking and mob molestation?

The suicide of Geetika of Haryana due to exploitation by Congress leader Gopal Kanda has reminded everyone of the series of women whose proximity to men in power cost them their lives (Naina Sahni, Shehla Masood, Shivani Bhatnagar, Madhumita Shukla, Shashi, Bhanwari Devi...). Rupam Pathak might have joined that list, perhaps, had she not chosen to change the script and resist. Yet, even now, she languishes in jail, denied even bail.

It is a testimony to the widely prevalent feudal patriarchal mindset that woman who refuse ‘friendship’ face acid attacks, blade attacks, and public murder. Add to this the Talibani mindset that blames women for the attacks. We need to mount a more effective challenge to this mindset, and we need to welcome the instances where women embrace resistance rather than victimhood alone.

Saroj Chaubey

Open Letter to UP Women’s Commission

(Excerpts from AIPWA’s letter)


About four months ago, when the Samajwadi Party led Government was formed, social justice and social security were spelled as its two major priorities. If the police in the state itself becomes the law breaker and the state administration a mute spectator, then we feel ashamed to call ourselves members of a civilized society. Here are some incidents of violence on women, in which AIPWA intervened and struggled to get justice for the victims.

In Sukrit village of Sonebhadra, a tribal woman Gram Pradhan, Dhunna Devi , aged 45 years was shot dead at her residence on 5th June. A fact finding team of AIPWA visited the village and met the family members of the deceased. Sonebhadra is notorious for the clout and terror of mining mafia. These mafia forcefully capture the Gram Samaj lands and in connivance with the local police, use it for illegal mining activity. Sukrit village is a key centre for stone crushing activity. Those Gram Pradhans who do not fall in line with the illegal activities of the mining mafia are easily eliminated. Two women Gram Pradhans of this village to dared to stand against the mafia faced the same fate. In this particular incident, connivance between the police and the killers is clearly evident as the family members told the AIPWA team that the sons and husband of Dhunna Devi were being pressurized by the police to own up the charge for her murder.

In Karaunda village of Mirzapur, under Madiyan police station, a 20 year old tribal women Sunita was raped by a landlord in whose farms she worked as a labourer. This incident occurred on 30th June and was not reported in the media. When the women approached the police station to lodge her complaint, she was abused and turned away. Sunita, mother of two, could undergo a medical examination only when AIPWA leaders gheraod the police station. Her statement under CRPC 164 is not being recorded, and the delay in this process is giving ample time to the landlord to force her family into submission. She has been kept in a Women’s protection home, away from her 6-month-old baby. AIPWA leader Jeera Bharti, who led the movement, is constantly getting death threats from the feudal forces of the region. AIPWA state leaders held a Press conference in the district headquarter Mirzapur on 6th July which was also attended by Sunita’s parents. AIPWA demanded that an FIR should be lodged against the rapist.

In Kajipur village (Balia district, PS Sikandarpur), a Dalit women Mila Devi was gang raped and killed by kulaks belonging to the Yadav community on 1st May. The police did not lodge an FIR. The culprits enjoy the patronage of the local Samajwadi Party MLA and basic education Minister of UP. The victim was also molested by the same culprits during the last assembly elections. She defied death threats to lodge a complaint, and an FIR was registered, but no further investigation has been carried out by the police.

In Asthan village (Pratapgarh, PS Nawabgunj), a 11-year-old Dalit girl was raped and murdered on 20th June. Her family went to the police station to complain against a relative of the Gram Pradhan of a nearby Muslim locality. The police registered a case unidentified people and refused to take action against the named culprits. This infuriated the villagers and they attacked the Muslim locality and torched 20 houses. The police remained a mute spectator during this riot. In this district 5 incidents of rape of minor girls have been reported in the month of June alone.

On 14th July, in Lakhimpur district, one Paramjit Singh who owns a liquor factory and is close to the ruling establishment, thrashed a 45-year-old woman in her house along with some accomplices, disrobed her and threw her on the street. This incident occurred in Patwara village of Palia Kala Block. The police registered an FIR after the matter was reported in the press. An AIPWA fact finding team lead by AIPWA district secretary Aarti Rai visited the village and met the victim. Later, a 200 strong protest march was organized at the Block HQ demanding strict action against Paramjit Singh and compensation for the victim.

On 16th July in Pilibhit, a 16 year old girl belonging to Susuyar village was on her way to attend nature’s call when a local goon Amar Singh Gujjar tried to rape her. The girl resisted his action and in retaliation he attacked the girl with a sharp weapon, killing her. He even mutilated her private parts. In the past, this rapist had molested and raped women of the village but also got away because of his links with the local police. An AIPWA team met the family members of the deceased girl and extended help to her family. The rapist is presently in jail.

On 24th July, in Puranpur region of Pilibhit, a cyber crime came to light. A man raped a minor girl of the village, and released a video of the act on the Internet. The whole matter was reported by the girl’s parent to the police but the culprit has not been arrested, nor has the video been blocked. The family, out of ‘shame’, has left the village.

In police station Pisawan of Sitapur, a young couple eloped from the village. Acting on a complaint by the girl’s family, the police arrested the boy while the girl was raped by the police for 5 days. The parents of the victim lodged a complaint. The girl had to give her statement in front of a magistrate but under pressure of the police she changed her statement. Although the UP Women Commission had taken cognizance of the matter, the Commission insensitively dropped the case as soon as the girl changed her statement.


These cases of acts of sexual violence against women in your state are only the tip of the iceberg. It is expected of the women’s commission to show a sensitive attitude towards victims and ensure justice for the aggrieved, but sadly, the UP women’s commission has maintained a shameful silence even as horrific crimes against women continue. In such a situation, AIPWA demands that members of the women commission tender their resignation on moral grounds and the commission be re-constituted with representation of grass root women activists.

Protest Against Rape-Murder of Dalit Girl in Uttarakhand

In the early hours of 10 July, the raped dead body of 8 year old dalit girl Sanjana of Tiwarinagar village in Bindukhatta, abducted the night before, was found in the village itself. In spite of heavy police picketing and assurances by the police as well as Cabinet Minister Harishchandra Durgapal (who comes from the same region) that the culprits would be apprehended within 48 hours, no arrests were made even after 10 days.

The Party took steps in this matter and organized a public meeting attended by hundreds of villagers under the banner of the Bharatiya Kisan Mahasabha on 19 July. In spite of administrative pressure warning against participation in the meeting, 500 villagers including many women gathered at the Shaheed Smarak for the rally which arrived at the Tehsil by way of the main Bazaar. The demonstration vociferously demanded the immediate arrest of Sanjana’s killers.

Visit to Violence-hit areas of Assam

A team of CPI(ML) leaders comprising of Assam State Secretary Com. Bibek Das, State members Com. Naren Borah and Arup Kr. Mahanta, Barpeta district committee members Dulal Sarkar, Babulal Sarkar, Mafijuddin, Harilal Das, Biren Ghosh visited violence-hit BTC areas and relief camps on 2nd August last. During the visit they met affected people of different cross sections of the society and heard about different incidents. Although the violence started on 19th July, the tension prevailed for the last one month or so. The Government totally failed to control the situation; and no effective administrative step was taken either on the part of the state Government or the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) to control situation and help the victims. It seems that there is no local authority to control the clash between Bodos and religious minorities. Administrative inaction, lawlessness, anarchy had permitted to quick spread of violence to the nearby districts.

At first, the killing of two leaders of All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union, and there after killing of 4 ex-BLT members, worsened the situation. No prompt action was taken and no enquiry was ordered. As the Government remained inert, a wave of brutal killing and arson gripped Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD). It is worth noting that illegal fire arms were widely used in the violence and the police officers in BTAD openly expressed their helplessness, and even the Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Bijni has sent his resignation letter to the higher authorities, pleading lack of adequate security forces.

Inmates in the relief camps complained of not receiving adequate food and access to safe drinking water. Low quality medicine is being supplied to some relief camps, due to which one person died in the relief camp. The team demanded punishment of the culprits and a high level enquiry into the matter. The inmates of relief camps want to go back to their villages, but due to lack of security of their life and property, they do not dare to move.

BTC Chief Hagrama Mohiliary resorted some provocative remarks alleging a ‘Bangladeshi’ hand behind this clash. It is nothing but a camouflage to cover up the total failure of the govt. Although Muslim people inhabited in violence-hit Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa (all under BTC, Odalguri, the last district of BTC is not affected) and Dhubri (outside BTC) district, they had no major clash earlier, but clashes started in the process of BTC formation. In BTC area, there is a strong feeling of insecurity among religious minorities, Adivasis and other non-Bodos, and some vested interested groups have been trying to use these sentiments. Similarly, on the part of Bodo leaders, no initiative has been taken to integrate with the minority and other non-Bodo people.

CPI(ML) holds the Tarun Gogoi Government and BTC responsible for the violence, arson and killings. The Tarun Gogoi Government has lost all moral right to continue in the power. CPI(ML) demands a CBI enquiry into the incidents of ethnic violence, and punishment of the culprits.

The party also demands adequate relief materials for the inmates of relief camps and supply of medicine and proper treatment, as well as timely and proper rehabilitation of the displaced people with adequate security in their villages and areas.

CPI(ML) is of the view that the problem of BTAD must be resolved through dialogue with different representatives of different ethnic groups so that the sense of insecurity can be overcome. Both the State Government and BTC administration have failed to show such political good will, thereby leading to aggravation of the problem.

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