Rajkumari Sharma Tankha
It was summer of 2005. The city of Noida was witnessing the cases of missing girls. Not two or three but tens of girls were being reported missing by their parents in Nithari village. Noida was my beat (I was with HT then and the organization then had a weekly supplement HT Live Noida). I was perturbed, counting the numbers. Each parent who called me telling me about his/ her missing child (yes, most girls were barely into their teens), I directed towards Noida Police. Go report the case I told them. They did, or so I thought. Because the parents never called me back.
Then about 10 days later, a local resident, Usha Thakur, called me. She told me that a number of parents had gathered at her home, and each was complaining about their missing daughter. Wasn’t the police doing anything? In my naivety I had thought that the cops were at it. But they perhaps had ‘other’ obligations to fulfil.
I immediately reached the lady’s house. There sure were six sets of parents, sad, scared, and crying… literally crying. They quickly gathered around me, and began pleading me to accompany them to the police station. “The police is not registering our complaints. If you come with us, they will. Help us please,” one of them said. Deeply pained and shocked at the police inaction, I accompanied them to the SSP office in Sector 14.
I was in for bigger shock. When asked why an FIR has not been registered about the missing girls, an officer on duty told me – those girls must have left on their own, with their boyfriends. Furious, I asked him if he would say the same about his own 10 year old, and he had the audacity to reply – you don’t know. Their kids are not like ours. They mature before age. You don’t understand.
I was younger then, but surely I understood what he meant. What he meant was that the families were that of poor villagers, who don’t ‘count’. And he is not going to ‘increase the statistics for some poor girls’.
Why I am writing this now? Because in the last 15 years there has been no change in the attitude of either the officers or the politicians. And this is what hurts the most. Not only is there no let up in the cases of rapes and murder on girls, the administration and government is as deaf as it was then.
A few days back, there was a report in papers. Two minor girls, 13 and 15, from Baran in Rajasthan, were taken to Kota, Jaipur and Ajmer and were raped for three days. The two sisters have reportedly stated on camera that two boys had abducted them, drugged them and raped them for days.
But Rajasthan CM and senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot tweeted that the minor girls were not ‘forced’. Gehlot said that the “girls went with the boys on their own”. This, he said, the girls have admitted before the magistrate in their statement under CrPC Section 164. The boys were minors too, and the government is investigating further, said the CM.
A 13-year-old willingly went with boys on her own. And this she admitted before a magistrate?? Can you believe that?
How long should we allow these senile men — old, not so old or young — to try to distort the news?
Don’t we all know how the confessions are extracted? Is there any proof that the girls and their families were not coerced into talking before the camera?
All this to save the face of the state government!!!
The 2005 case kept getting bigger and bigger, and later came to be known as Nithari Serial Murders case.
The writer is a senior journalist working with The New Indian Express Group