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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Migrant rape victim got justice in Andhra Pradesh

Umi Daniel

After 7 years of unrelenting effort by some of the activist and organization, finally justice has been delivered to Sushila Deep (name changed) a dalit girl who along with other two minor tribal girls from Bolangir district were raped under captivity in Bharat Nagar in Hyderabad by the brick kiln owner Feroz khan his brother Ayub Khan and a labour agent Sanju Sagaria from Bolangir. The verdict was delivered by the Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge cum-III Addl. District & Sessions Judge9 FTC) on 22nd on January 2010 found the accused guilty under offence 376,341 & 506 of IPC and sentenced accused to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 10 years.

This gruesome incidence came to light when the parents of one of the girl escaped from the brick kiln and reported the matter to the local media and government people in Bolangir during August 2003. Immediately some activist from Bolangir rushed to Hyderabad and with the help of Action Aid, the rescue of 40 people was initiated on 27th August 2003. Out of the 40 people, 20 were children who were malnourished; one was a disable and one woman who lost her mental balance due to the inhuman abuse and torture unleashed on the people by the owners. With the help of Cybderabad Police Commisionerate all the victims were rescued, criminal cases filed agsint the culprit and all the released workers were sent back to Bolangir. Despite of the fact that these people were rescued under Bonded Labour Abolition Act, none of the rescued labourers were till today provided any rehabilitation support provisioned under the Act in Bolangir in Orissa. This was not an isolated case, during 2002-2006, more than 600 people were rescued from Hyderabad under bonded labour Act and still these people are waiting to be rehabilitated suitably by the government.

The hearing of the case started during end part of 2008. Some of us who were part of the rescue were quite determining to take the case to the logical end and see that the perpetrators were brought to justice. It was quite difficult to convenience the victims since all three of them were married and had their own family. Finally, Sushila despite of opposition from her in-laws and family has finally testified before the First Track Court in Ranga Reddy and narrated her story in camera. Some of the activist and family members of Sushila have also corroborated their statement and tightened the case. However, the accused could only be punished under IPC 376, 341 and 506, Rape and criminal intimidation and other charges like, Bonded labour and POA SC &ST can’t be proved. The case would have been strengthened if the Public Prosecutor did his job seriously. Those who attended the court can say that the PP was not very cooperative and let loose the case in the hands of Counsel of the accused.

Finally justice was delivered to the poor girl and 2 more accused are still at large. We would try our best to pursue other two girls to appear before the court ( which the judge has also requested) to punish other two who are equall partners in the crime committed on the poor, helpless tribal and dalit migrant labourers.

*The author has initiated the rescue and following up the legal processes together with others.

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