On Women’s Day, March 8th, the Chhattisgarh police organised a 3 km walk in Raipur to promote “zero tolerance” for crime against women.
400 km away, five hundred Adivasi women gathered in Bastar in remembrance of two women who had lost their lives to alleged police violence. The commemoration took place in Sameli village.
These villages fall under the Dantewada district. One of the cases that were taken up in the meeting was the case of a 16-year-old girl from the same village.
What Actually Happened To The 16-Year-Old Girl?
The 16-year-old has been reported to have hung herself to death in the backyard of her house in December 2018. This happened three months after she was found critically injured and unconscious near a small stream. Her family reported that she had been raped by uniformed officers.
The police refused to file an FIR, this triggered a massive agitation by the Adivasi community. They sought an independent investigation. The girl was in the hospital for weeks, when she came back to her village, unable to cope with the trauma, she ended her life.
“No girl in our village should face such a fate”, added the girl’s mother.
A memorial had been put together in Sameli to remember the pain of the 16-year-old. The memorial had four painted sides, each side showed scenes from her life, collecting wood, cooking, crying and pleading for mercy from the uniformed officers, lying unconscious near the river and hanging to death from a tree.
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To What Extent Is The Police Willing To Go, To Hide Their Own Folly?
One day before the commemoration meeting was held, uniformed officers came to the village and erased the paintings that were made in her remembrance, painting them over with blue, according to the villagers.
To protest against erasing the painting, Soni Sori, Hidme Markam and other women held black flags next to the memorial.
On the morning of the meeting, the women from the village reported that the police had erased another memorial in the nearby village of Jabeli, It had been established in the memory of Bhime Mandavi.
The police claimed to have killed Mandavi, 30, and another woman, Vijje Markam, 25, in a gunfight near Palnar on December 28.
The police’s excuse for the murder was that they were Maoist women. But the villagers of Jabeli claimed that the women were just visiting someone in Palnar when the police seemed to have killed them based on their mere assumption, without any hardcore proof.
Mandavi’s mother, who came to Sameli to share her sorrow, told Soni Sori that like everyone else in the village, her daughter would attend the meetings called by the Maoists and serve them food.
But she was not a member of any Maoist organisation, let alone carry weapons. Mandavi’s brother and two nephews were taken into custody When her family objected to the demolition of her memorial for the offence of causing a disturbance in public space, added Mandavi’s mother.
The commemoration ended abruptly when the police arrested Hidme Markam, an activist, who had helped mobilise the gathering.
What Are These Dark Ages That We Live In?
We live in the dark ages when the police instead of being our helpers, are the ones victimising vulnerable women from the weaker section of society.
Isn’t it ironic that the police themselves organised a walk for women on Women’s Day to promote “zero intolerance” for crime against women whereas, they are the ones who have been assaulting, raping and imprisoning women at their own will.
Maybe they were trying to get in the good books of the creme de la creme of the society or they were trying to get at bay with their guilt. But I will go with the former than the latter because that seems more likely.
Image Credits: Google Images
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