The two cases are eerily similar. Both involved young gang-rape victims. Both succumbed to injuries after putting up long and spirited fights.
But while the December 16 incident in Delhi in 2012 sparked off nationwide protests, there has been no similar outrage over the one in UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav’s hometown of Etawah.
“What happened in Delhi was a combination of a lot of pent-up anger against the police and the government,” said Ranjana Kumari, a Delhi-based women’s rights activist who was involved in the December protests and has worked in Etawah. “In areas of UP and Bihar, gender sensitivity is low. No support is seen from the general public.”
Even as the 20-year-old UP woman — first harassed for dowry by her fiancé’s family, then gang-raped by him and his friends, set on fire and hospitalised with 90% burns — died on Friday after a week in hospital, the ordeal for her family is not yet over.
Hours after the death of the private tutor and daily-wage labourer’s daughter at the Rural Institute of Medical Sciences in Etawah, her mother alleged policemen had threatened the family to withdraw the case, and her brother demanded protection.
The main accused in the case – Farhan, the victim’s fiancé – was arrested last week while his father and co-accused Haseen alias Pappu was arrested from Ikdil bus terminal on Friday. But the other three accused in the case – Farhan’s brother Shoaib, uncle Shakeel and grandmother Sabra – have not yet been held.
“We are making the best possible efforts to arrest the other accused,” assured Neelabhja Chowdhary, SSP Etawah. Brijesh Yadav, station officer at Ikdil police station, said that two policemen will provide security to the victim’s family.
The assurances notwithstanding, the victim’s death sparked off protests in her village of Desarmau. Angry locals heckled the sub-divisional magistrate over threats to the family and demanded a written promise about compensation.
Family members and locals even delayed the victim’s burial, agreeing only after some local politicians visited them and promised help. Two Samajwadi Party leaders also said the government will give them Rs 15 lakh as compensation. “Villagers are angry after her death. Many shops did not open till she was put to rest,” said Akhlaq Mewati, a villager.
In Lucknow, Congress spokesman Dwijendra Tripathi said cases of rape and murder had gone up in the state under the SP government.