The victims of the Bulandshahr (Dostpur) highway robbery and gang rape want to move out of their current place of residence and said they want to start a new life, away from the glare and the stigma of being ‘a victim family’. The family stays in a small rented room in a locality under the Khoda police station in Ghaziabad.
The man said he had also sent letters to the state officials for change of location of a flat previously allotted by the state government under the Integrated Housing and Slums Development Programme, but the request is yet to materialise.
The man, who used to be a cab driver, says that he wants to move out not because of his locality or society but for his only daughter, who underwent a traumatic experience.
“Our neighbours are very helpful. They help us out whenever we need something. It has (wanting to move places) has more to do with the stigma we are facing as a victim family. So, I want to move my daughter out from here. The government had offered me a flat but I had put up an application to shift the place to another location in Ghaziabad or Gautam Budh Nagar. I sent letters to the state administration but the issue is still pending,” he said.
The 39-year-old has also quit his driving job and roped in a driver, who operates his cab and pays him Rs10,000-Rs12,000 thousand per month.
“The cab is the only source of earning I have now. I have to pick and drop my daughter to school and also to her coaching classes. If I am driving, she will be left to travel on her own. We don’t want this to happen as her safety is of our prime importance. Even my wife is yet to come out of trauma. She hardly even goes to the shops in the locality. She has stepped out of home only a few times, along with other women family members, since the incident,” he said.
Post the incident, the UP police arrested six men, three each in two instances. However, only the latter set of suspects were chargesheeted when the investigation was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
“I am yet to know the case status as I don’t go to Bulandshahr now. Right now, our focus is only on our daughter. I don’t know how we will manage to attend the case hearings when the trial starts,” he said.
The family is from Shahjahanpur and they often visit their native place. They were on way to their village when the gang rape took place. Since then, the family has stopped using the Bulandshahr route. “Going through Bulandshahr is completely out of the question. That place always brings back bad memories and worsens our suffering. We use the other routes, from Sambhal and Chandausi, instead,” he said.
His minor daughter and wife were allegedly gang raped on the night of July 30, 2016, when the family was travelling to Shajahanpur following the death of a family member.
“Since this will be the first Holi after my grandmother’s death, we will visit our native place. This time, we will start in the morning and avoid night time. There is no way we will go through Bulandshahr again. This is the reason why I moved an application in the court to transfer the case from Bulandshahr to Delhi,” he said.
“While we were heading to Bulandshahr for recording our statements, a private cab driver shot our video and photographs. It was not until I called up the deputy inspector general that the police helped and the videos in the phone of the driver were deleted. So Bulandshahr is a big no, for now,” he said.
To counter their fears and bolster safety, the family has also procured a licenced revolver. The licence documents were recently washed along with clothes in their washing machine but officials helped them to speedily process duplicate documents.