Every home in Sultanpur village in Bihar’s Biharsharif district has donated money to help the father of a minor girl, who was allegedly raped by Nawada MLA Raj Ballabh Yadav, in his fight for justice.
The girl, who lives in a rented house in Biharsharif with her siblings, was allegedly taken to the Rashtriya Janata Dal legislator’s house at Pathra English locality of Bakhtiyarpur in Patna district on February 6 by a woman, who has been identified as Sulekha Devi, and was raped there.
The next day, the girl was threatened with dire consequences before being sent back to Biharsharif, where she studies. She informed her parents, who in turn filed a complaint with the women’s police station.
“We know that the girl’s father is not economically sound. And, you won’t believe it, when the sad, traumatic incident became known due to police visiting his home several days later, the entire village sprung up as one and stood by him in solidarity,” Dhamendra Kumar, a villager, said.
Villagers know the father, who sells small provisions to support his family of six, as a ‘soft-spoken, well-respected man, who has no feud - small or big- with anyone’.
“The man works hard to keep body and soul together and sent his two girls and a boy to Biharsharif to pursue their education. How he manages is a story in immense courage. The incident has shattered the confidence of parents whose wards live alone in rented buildings in Biharsharif for the same reason. Some have already withdrawn their wards. They are seething with rage. Khauff (fear) aur gussa (anger) aisa hai,” another resident said.
They say the family now keeps to itself and no one has seen the father and the mother outside the house after the incident came out in the open. Angry villagers have unanimously called for justice.
“We would have lynched him, had we got our hands on the legislator. We elect such people to help us live with dignity and protect us, and here he is preying on us. If the life and dignity of our mothers and sisters is compromised, what will desperate men do,” said Rajiv Kumar, an engineering student, said.
“The entire village is one on the idea that it will fight the battle for this young girl, come what may. We want to see a logical end of this case in the punishment of Raj Ballabh,” he added.
Nalanda police did not file an FIR on February 6, the day the complaint was made, but did so only at the orders of Patna Range DIG Shalin on February 12. The MLA has been absconding since then. He has also been suspended by the party.
Yadav has been charged under sections of protection of children from sexual offences act (POCSO) for luring a minor and abducting her. The girl has recognised the house where she was allegedly raped and also identified Yadav as the man who raped her from his pictures.
The girl has also said in her complaint registered under section 164 that Sulekha Devi, the woman abducted her and took her to the MLA’s residence, demanded Rs 25,000 to 30,000 for her services. She is yet to be arrested.
Dr Krishna, the doctor who was authorised by police to conduct the girl’s medical examination, had mentioned in her report that the 15-year-old ‘was habituated to sex’. However, her version has been contradicted by all villagers at Sultanpur, where people say the entire family was above any suspicion and their characters could not be questioned.
“They have lived here for decades and are actually loved. Their children’s characters are impeccable, not a speck of doubt anywhere,” Kumar said.
Demand for justice
People with banners protesting the rape and vowing vengeance can be seen in village. They have even squatted on roads affecting blockades as the entire area simmered with anger. The only question that people ask of journalists is whether the absconding MLA has been arrested.
“He should be hanged publicly,” Jai Mahto, a social activist from the area, said.
“There is complete revulsion and disbelief, a sentiment not known or seen easily in these parts. Several such issues have surfaced, but the people have never boiled over, as is visible now. This can happen to anyone, is the general feeling, reason why, every home, every person has identified with the victim and resolved to fight her war,” Mahto added.
Yadav failed to appear in Biharsharif court expired on Thursday the deadline prescribed for his surrender in the case.
On Saturday, a special court rejected Yadav’s anticipatory bail application saying that the application was not maintainable since the charge was of a serious nature.
The bail petition was moved in the Biharsharif court after the police procured arrest and search warrants against the MLA, who has been on the run to avoid arrest.