It seems crime against women in Meghalaya, the only state in the country that boast of a unique matrilineal society, is increasing leaps and bounds, with no respite to the victims. The cops, who were supposed to take proactive role in ensuring safety of women and girls in the state, are themselves unleashing brutal sexual assault on them. In a startling revelation, women rights activists in Meghalaya have alleged that a Police officer had repeatedly raped two tribal girls from South Garo hills in the month of March 2013 on gun point and threatened the girls and their family not to register a complaint. Finally on 1 June the father of the two victims, who are sisters, have lodged a complaint with the Police. Under public pressure, the Police officer was detained but he is ‘missing’ from ‘police detention’ from Sunday afternoon and the Meghalaya Police is under a cloud of suspicion.
According to Civil Society Women’ Organisation (CSWO) led by Agnes Kharsaiing, noted women rights activist from Meghalaya, who have brought out this sensational revelation through a Press release to TEHELKA, stating that the two sisters, both adults, from Ampati in newly created South West Garo hills districts of Meghalaya were stopped by a Police patrol party when they were on their way to the local village market around 7 P.M on 13 March. The girls were apparently not told why they were stopped and asked to come to the police station.
On reaching the police station, they were interrogated by the officer–in-charge (OC) of Ampati police station Norul Islam. “We spoke to the family. According to the family, the girls were interrogated one after another in the official chamber of the OC, where he allegedly raped the girls one after another on gun point on the pretext of interrogation,” Kharsiing alleges. The activist further informed TEHELKA that the victims and their family members were threatened by the Police Officer of dire consequences if they open their mouth.
The activists had further alleged that on 31 May 2013, the accused Police Officer again forcefully entered the house of the two victims and on gun point raped them several times, and told them to stay quite. Cops from the Ampati Police station went on intimidating the victims and their family, the acvists further alleged.
On 1 June, the father of the victims along with the local village and community head went to the police station and lodged an FIR. “We have registered a complaint and the accused cop was detained for interrogation, but while sending him to Tura he fled, a search is on for him,” Superintendent of Police of South West Garo hill R Muthu confirmed to TEHELKA over the phone.
According to highly placed police sources in Tura, since the SP was on leave, the Deputy Superintendant of Police (DSP) of Ampati, Bijoy Chettri had picked up the accused cop for interrogation and decided to send him to Tura, but in Tura he was brought to police quarters from where the accused cop is said to have given his fellow policemen a slip.
“This is stage managed by the Police, they want to save the accused officer. This case cannot be ignored, because in such deplorable condition a heinous crime has been committed by a man in uniform who is supposed to safe guard, he has misused his position and he should be immediately arrested, otherwise we will launch a state wide agitation,” Agnes warns the Meghalaya government.
Since Ampati is also the constituency of Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, the top brass of Meghalaya police are tight lipped about the allegation and subsequent fleeing of the accused officer from police custody.
On 13 December last year, an 18-year-old girl was gangraped by 16 boys in William Nagar, the headquarters of the East Garo Hills district. After TEHELKA reported on the incident, activists allege that pressure is mounting on the victim’s family to withdraw the case. In fact, there was a six-fold rise in cases of rape registered annually in the state between 2001 (26 cases) and 2010 (149 cases). In a state that boasts of women’s empowerment — where women inherit property and are seen at the forefront of domestic and public life — 830 rape cases between 2002 and 2012 should have shaken the conscience of the public authorities and forced them to act. Instead, the conviction rate remains awfully low and even compensation is hardly provided to the victims and their families. In the Garo Hills alone, 23 rape cases, including two gang rape cases, have been pending for over a decade.