A decade later, ordeal continues for Greyhound rape victims of Visakhapatnam
Eleven Adivasi women were allegedly gang-raped by a police team in 2007 during an anti-Maoist operation in their hamlet in Visakhapatnam of Andhra Pradesh.india Updated: Sep 09, 2017 07:44 IST
Ten years is a long time, but for the 11 Adivasi women alleged to have been gang-raped by a police team in 2007 during an anti-Maoist operation in their hamlet of Visakhapatnam of Andhra Pradesh, the ordeal is far from over.
Ever since some members of the crack Greyhounds police team allegedly went berserk in the early hours of August 20 that year, it has been an unending struggle for the women to secure justice and regain social redemption.
Viewed with distrust by family and neighbours ever since because of regressive local traditions, many had to undergo ‘purification’ rituals to be accepted back into the community. Some are yet to be accepted wholeheartedly by their husbands.
“We have been victimised again and again,” laments one of the women, raped by the Greyhounds men.
The judicial process to bring the culprits to book has also taken inordinately long.
It was only last week that the Supreme Court finally ordered the local court in Paderu to expeditiously complete the trial of 13 Greyhounds personnel within six months.
But far removed from the corridors of the top court in Delhi and the legal wrangling, the women and their lives continue to be in upheaval. In the immediate aftermath of the incident, they were forced to leave their homes for three weeks to undergo ‘purification’.
- August 20, 2007: Greyhounds personnel allegedly gang rape 11 women of Vakapalli hamlet in Visakhapatnam. Paderu cops register FIR some days later.
- September 6, 2007: State government inquiry points to lack of medical evidence to prove rape.
- September 28, 2007: High court orders a CID inquiry and the case is dismissed following CID report.
- April, 2012: Following an appeal, high court orders trial of 13 Greyhounds personnel
- 2017: Supreme Court rules for speedy trial by Paderu court.
“My husband was shocked, yet he pushed me out of the house and told me that I had lost the right to continue as his wife. I cried and pleaded with him to allow me into the house, but he didn’t listen,” a victim told HT.
Traditions of the Kondh tribe to which the women belong stipulate that women who ‘lose their chastity also lose their right to live with their husband unless they are purified’.
Forced to live in the forests, one of the victims died of snake bite while another, locals say, died after becoming a mental wreck. “All of them were forced to live outside and were not allowed even to feed their children,” recounts Vanthala Subba Rao, a village elder.
There were other traumas too in store.
Each of them was ordered by the Nurmathi gram panchayat to pay Rs10,000 and donate a bull to the village as penalty. The penalties were ultimately waived off following intervention by an NGO, but the victims nevertheless had to take bath in a nearby stream to cleanse themselves before they returned home.
Years later, the women are yet to be accepted back.
“I know it was not her fault, but I am still not able to accept her totally. Sometimes, I get so angry that I feel like drinking her blood,” said Pangi Nagendra, the husband of a victim.
Another said it would have been better had his wife died after being gang-raped. “I cannot remain normally with her after the incident,” Korra Krishna Rao said.
Shouldering the burden of an alleged crime they were not responsible for, the women are silently hoping that a favourable court verdict when it comes would help them find closure.
“Our life was completely ruined. Since 2007, there have been no celebrations in our
family,” said a 35-year-old victim. Others agreed that the incident robbed them of even the smallest of joys.