A local tough rapes a Dalit girl. Police ignores her complaint. Rapist gets bolder and starts openly teasing her. This much of the story seems familiar.
But the 17-year-old girl could not take the social stigma that follows rape and the trauma. She set herself on fire.
After the death and seven days after she was raped on February 12, the police in Hamirpur, about 90 km west of Kanpur, registered a case on February 19 under tremendous public pressure.
District Magistrate D. Srinivas ordered a magisterial inquiry into the police conduct. Superintendent of Police Surya Nath Singh claimed that a case was immediately filed and the accused was arrested from his hideout on Friday.
The girl’s grandfather, Tutiya Ahirwar, said she was raped in a nearby field where she had gone to collect fodder.
“She came back crying and told me about what happened to her. I quietly went to the police and told them about the incident,” he said.
But the police did not lodge any complaint.
They brought in the rapist, Balkishan Lodhi. But he had to spend only a few hours at the police station campus before being released.
Emboldened, Lodhi shared the incident with his friends, who began teasing the girl wherever she went.
On February 17, some local boys teased her again with obscene remarks and gestures. Ahirwar said after that she rushed back home, “locked herself in a room and set herself on fire”.
Ahirwar alleged that whatever step the police had taken later was because the incident had sparked off caste tension in the village and several men of his community went to senior police authorities.