A youth from the family of a rape accused was abusing Raja and his wife Raj Kali — the parents of a 16-year-old girl who burnt herself after being gang-raped by three village goons on October 6 — threatening to get them evicted from the village when this correspondent went to their house on Thursday. This is the same Dalit family in Sacha Khera village of Haryana, which had been visited by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in October after a series of gang rapes rocked the State. It was also the only time when Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda or any of his ministers visited a stricken family.
Ms. Gandhi’s choice of Sacha Khera, it was said, was largely because the victim and the perpetrators were both Dalits and would not alienate the Congress’ Jat community vote bank in the State, whose members are accused of many other similar rapes in Haryana. Despite Sacha Khera being a politically easy choice, Ms. Gandhi’s visit does not seem to have made much difference to the victim’s family. More than two months on, the family has not received a penny from the government for relief and rehabilitation, which is normally given to Dalit victims of social atrocities. And, the one gunman provided by the district police to protect them is not equipped to stop the overwhelming pressure from the rest of the village to compromise with the accused. “The rest of the village is supporting the accused because they are well off, with government jobs”, says Raja.
As a district official explained, “Aid to Dalits under the SC and ST Act can only be given if their oppressor is from the upper caste. The government can, however, give a discretionary grant from its own funds but it has not done this so far.”
A scheme of the department of women and child development specially for rape victims is also not being implemented due to paucity of funds. So, though a few rape victims in other parts of the State have received sums ranging from Rs. 60,000 to Rs. 4 lakh, this hapless couple with six more children has not.
A day after Ms. Gandhi’s visit, a Haryana minister did hand over Rs. 2.5 lakh to the family, but as Dimple, a worker of the Mahila Samiti, points out, “This has not come from the State government.” Says Raja, a daily labourer, “I cannot take time off from work to pursue the case. I am poor, my daughter has died, but I will not compromise.”