Five years after he first raped his own daughter, sub-divisional magistrate Virendra Kumar Dohre is literally on the run.
Dohre, sub-divisional magistrate of Mahoba, about 300 kms from Lucknow, has proceeded on leave and cannot be traced. The Dalit official raped his daughter Pratima Singh in the presence of her mother, for the first time in 2001.
The Uttar Pradesh government has deputed two senior officers of the rank of deputy inspector general of police to arrest Dohre.
"We have not been able to arrest him so far," Uttar Pradesh director general of police (DGP) Bua Singh said.
Action against Dohre followed after his daughter met state Principal Home Secretary Satish Kumar Agarwal about 10 days ago along with Madhu Kishwar, a well known Delhi-based woman rights activist, who took up the case.
"The principal home secretary and I decided to get a case registered against Dohre, who had committed the most heinous of crimes. The government ordered his suspension on Friday. We have set up two teams under the deputy inspector generals of Kanpur range and Chitrakoot range to arrest the official," the DGP said.
According to the complaint by Pratima, she was raped first in 2001 when her father was posted in Kanpur. She tried reporting the matter to the police but the local police station refused to entertain her. After this, her father repeated the act several times. He threatened her with dire consequences if she dared to complain.
"Having already been a victim of his continued oppression and physical torture, my mother could not dare to take up cudgels against my father. She even dissuaded me from doing so," Pratima has said in her complaint.
Pratima, however, did not give up. On Jan 29, 2002, after much running around, she managed to get her complaint reach the state DGP. But it ended in an anti-climax for her. The investigation landed in the hands of her accused father himself.
Dohre was livid when he found that she had publicly exposed his misdeeds.
According to Kishwar, who is solely responsible for getting Pratima on the path towards redressal, "when he came home to investigate the complaint against himself, he thrashed Pratima with a steel rod and put a gun to her chest, and told her, You think a DGP can protect you against me? I hold many DGPs in my fist and can make them do my bidding. I'll now teach you the lesson you deserve."
Kishwar told: "Thereafter, he forced her to write a statement in a slightly changed handwriting, saying that she had never made any complaint against her father, who never maltreated her. He also made her state that the complaint was forged by some enemies of the family who had taken her signatures on a blank paper on some other pretext. Thus she was forced to exonerate her own father."
Eventually, a friend came to her rescue and took her out of the mess. A few months later she eloped and got married to Satya Prakash in Varanasi, where the latter was studying for his medical degree. She chose Satya Prakash as her saviour because his father had helped her mother and expressed sympathy for her plight.
What followed was a harrowing experience not only for Pratima, but also for Satya Prakash's entire family. They were harassed and hounded by Dohre and his hired goons.
Pratima went knocking at every door to seek redress against the trauma she had undergone, but to no avail.
She also approached the State Women's Commission in Lucknow in February 2003. Her complaint was formally registered, but the inquiry officer failed to get Pratima's father to depose before the commission. He closed the case with the remark, "insufficient evidence".
It was in September this year, Pratima got access to a popular TV news channel, through which she came out in the open about her father. It was at the show that she came in touch with Kishwar, who decided to take up her case and eventually brought her before the principal home secretary Satish Agarwal.
"I must give full points to Agarwal for going out of his way to ensure all help to Pratima. But for him, Dohre would have gone unpunished," Kishwar added.