Butana Custodial Rape: Horrible Brutality On Minor Dalit Woman In Police Custody

S V Singh //

Village Butana, District Sonipat, Haryana
(82 km from Delhi Towards West)

The truth of a mind- numbing incident of unspeakable brutality of mass rape of a minor Dalit woman in police Chowki allegedly by the policemen themselves in village Butana, District Sonipat, Haryana and murder of 2 policemen could have been buried forever but for some vigilant student activists and independent investigations carried out by Mazdoor Morcha a weekly published from Faridabad and Bekhauf Azadi, a Chandigarh based group.

While studying in a college at Jind, Amit and Reena (minor, name changed) developed friendship and intimacy. Lockdown was declared on 24th March and colleges were closed. Reena returned to her village Butana. On the night of 29th June both of them decided to meet outside the village at Haryali Park. Amit with three of his friends waited in a car there and Reena with her cousin Meena (name changed) left her home at around 10 pm to meet him. A police petrol team of two policemen, constable Ravinder and PSO Kaptan Singh on a bike spotted them. As per police version they were consuming alcohol were found to be in ‘compromising’ position. Ravinder, the police constable allegedly asked Amit to handover one girl to him for a night. Amit refused angrily, tried to bribe the policemen to leave them alone. He also informed the police that he is going to marry Reena. Policemen didn’t accept the proposal and allegedly dragged the girl out of the car and assaulted her to molest. Amit got furious and hit Ravinder with a knife on his neck. He fell down, grievously injured. He then attacked Kaptan Singh on his chest with the same knife. After this bloody scuffle, Amit, his friends and both the girls fled the scene. Whether both the policemen were killed instantly or succumbed to their injuries after bleeding as their bodies were recovered at around 5 am the next day, i.e. 30.06.2020, cannot be ascertained. Murder of 2 of their colleagues enraged entire police party at Butana police chowki. An FIR for the double murder was lodged on June 30 against Amit, his friends and both the girls, one of them being minor. According to Mazdoor Morcha investigation report, Rajkumar, Amit’s father runs an e riksha for his livelihood at Jind. He informed that Amit came home to meet his mother at Jind in afternoon on June 30 and Haryana NIA police team took him into custody at 4 pm on 30 June but he was informed after some time that Amit is killed in an encounter as he tried to attack policemen. Amit also had Rs.14500 with him but nothing was found on his body. Police arrested Meena on July 1st and Reena’s mother took her daughter to the police chowki on July 2 and she surrendered. What happened after that is mind numbing. Both the girls were allegedly raped by 10 to 12 policemen and were subjected to unspeakable brutality. It is alleged that beer bottle and a danda were inserted in her vagina. They were lodged at Karnal Jail on July 6. But family members were not allowed to meet them.  According to a report in Indian Express dated October 28, ‘the prison administration informed the mother (of the victim) that her daughter had been continuously bleeding since she had been brought to the prison.’ A woman who had been lodged in the same barracks as the girls in Karnal jail, had contacted the family members of the minor survivor after her release and informed, “girls are grievously injured and the survivor needs immediate medical attention.” After knowing this on 20th July, their mother tried desperately to lodge FIR but it could, finally, be registered only on July 30 exactly after one month of the crime. In the FIR also the column explaining reason for delay in filing the FIR is left blank. There is another disturbing reality which makes this crime still more grave. Girl’s date of birth is 23.08.2002 which means she was a minor at the time of the crime on 02.07.2020 and she was lodged in normal jail at Karnal since last 3 months. It was only on Oct 21 that National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) commenced the probe and directed administration to shift her to juvenile center. She is now shifted to the juvenile center quietly but there is, again, no news of any accountability for this lawlessness except a lame duck excuse that it was because of Corona as if the virus cannot enter Karnal jail.

No political party is opening its mouth over this ghastly crime because the cast equation attached to this incident is not favorable to them in Baroda assembly by- poll scheduled on 3rd November. Bourgeois parties are interested in speaking against atrocities on Dalits or the poor only when it suites their election arithmetic. Thanks to the angry reaction by several student organizations, social groups that the bitter truth of the matter has come out.

People all over Haryana are aghast at the gruesome brutality on the minor woman. There was an angry protest at the DC office in Faridabad on October 26th under the banner of ‘Joint Action Committee’. Similarly, on October 29th a joint protest meeting was organized by Chhatra Ekta Munch, Naujawan Bharat Sabha, Chhatra Abhibhavak Sangh and Bekhauf Azadi at Ambedkar Park, Sonipat which served a 10-day ultimatum on Haryana administration to arrest the police personnel accused who are named by the minor for her mass rape otherwise be ready to face nationwide protests. The police version of the tragic incident is unable to stand on its feet. There are more than sufficient reasons to get the matter thoroughly investigated under Judicial supervision of both the crimes; murder of 2 policemen and mass rape and brutalities of a minor woman under police custody.  A SIT has been constituted under ASP, Nikita to investigate the matter. NHRC is also probing the matter and it is learnt that a petition is filed at Chandigarh High Court on Oct 29th.

Big Holes In Police Version:

  1. Why did the two policemen did not call police chowki for help even after they smelt danger on their life whereas the spot of incident is hardly one km from chowki? Knife attack on policemen was at around 1 am. Attackers fled after that. Both the policemen kept bleeding till around 5 am when their bodies were recovered.
  2.  After Amit and the girl were found in ‘compromising position’, Why were the constable Ravinder and SPO Kaptan Singh so keen to take the girls to police chowki in night at 1 am when there are unambiguous guidelines that no women will be taken into police custody or kept in police custody after 7 pm? Why was no women police called? 
  3. Amit was killed in ‘encounter’ whereas he was taken into custody alive at 4 pm on June 30 as informed by Rajkumar, his father. How is the armed police force gets attacked by an unarmed accused under custody? How many times will the same story be repeated in every ‘encounter’?
  4.  Police remand was for 2 days while the girls remained in custody for 4 days, Why?
  5. Police mentions in their report that one lady police constable remained with the girls throughout their period of custody but no details of that police women are provided even if she is said to have been transferred now. 
  6. Why was a minor lodged in normal jail and not in a juvenile center?
  7. LARGER QUESTION:
    Complete truth should be dug out by thorough, impartial investigations and guilty of this gruesome crime need to get exemplary punishment. No one should be allowed to escape the iron hand of law whatever position he/ she may be having. This issue, however, requires much more to be done. Women in general and Dalit women in particular are not only raped but are brutalized, tormented so inhumanely as if taking monstrous revenge. A girl is killed in Ballabhgarh, Haryana on Monday, Oct 26 for refusing to marry a ruffian and this happened on a main road, in the thick of the city and in broad day light. Those suffering from deep rooted patriarchal mindset asking the question why the girls from Butana were out in the night, should realize the futility of their prejudiced question. ‘Women are not to be left with the option of saying ‘no’ even on issues related to their body’, this is the nefarious thinking at the root of women oppression. This displays a fascist streak. Mass movements against such acts as happened at Butana or Ballabhgarh which are shameful for entire society, therefore, be directed first to ensure the most exemplary punishment to the perpetrators of such crime, not allowing any state organ to protect the criminal in any manner whatsoever and secondly against commodifying of women and for respect and genuine equality for women and for women liberation by rooting out exploitation of any shade. 

[Originally published in The Truth: Platform for Radical Voices of The Working Class (Issue 7 / November 2020)]

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