Having already faced severe criticism for having the lowest sex ratio of 843 girls per 1,000 boys in the state, it seems that the agricultural district of Sangrur is also unsafe for women, especially for minor girls.
According to the district police, 15 rape cases and four of molestation have been reported in the district as of November 20 this year. Unfortunately, out of the 19 victims, 16 are below 17 years of age.
All the 10 sub-divisions of the district have numerous reports of heinous crimes against women. But the most ghastly among these is the story of a six-year-old minor girl from Gawara village of Malerkotla.
A migrant labourer brutally murdered the Class 2 student by repeatedly hitting her with a brick after he failed to rape her. Reports such as these belie claims made about security of women and girls in the district.
However, in most cases, girls become victims to strangers, but in Sangrur they are unsafe at their own homes and schools. A 12-year-old girl was raped by her alcoholic father in Moonak sub-division of the district, earlier this month.
Reports also point to the fact that girls fall victim to teachers as well. In February this year, the Malerkotla police arrested a 'madrasa' teacher for raping his minor student and molesting four other girl students.
In her complaint, the victim told cops that Mohammad Amzad Khan (25), who was incharge of the 'madrasa', had raped the girl twice on February 26 and March 17 in a room on campus during special classes after school.
Though there are numerous reports of minor girls being raped on the pretext of marriage, in most cases girls became victims of relatives and neighbours.
In a shocking incident in Khadial village of Sunam sub-division of the district, the maternal aunt of a 17-year-old girl helped two youths enter the house and rape her niece, when the girl was alone at home on November 13.
The police said there were several reports of gang rape as well. On March 17, seven youths kidnapped and raped a 23-year-old woman, mother of a three-year-old girl, in Amargarh town of the district. After the rape, the boys dumped the woman at an isolated place near Malerkotla town, where she was found in an unconscious state next morning.
However, the police have booked 32 persons on charges of rape as of November 20 this year, but safety of women and girls still remains a cause for worry.
When contacted, Sangrur senior superintendent of police Mandeep Singh Sidhu said, "The police have been doing their duty to ensure safety of women. They are also committed to ensure that the cases end up in conviction by proper follow-up and investigation. I think that education and awareness can also play a big role in checking crime against women."