VISAKHAPATNAM: Eleven women from the Vakapalli tribal group in Visakhapatnam region who were allegedly gang-raped by greyhounds in 2007 are still fighting for justice. “The women are from interior tribal areas. They don’t even dare go to their nearest mandal quarters, but they have put up a fight against their rapists for 10 long years. That’s huge. But what’s sad is that the trial for the case is yet to begin,” Human Rights Forum (HRF) general secretary VS Krishna told TNIE.
It may be recalled that after the incident, an FIR was lodged under IPC Section 376 (gang rape) and the SC, ST (Prevention) of Atrocities Act. The cops countered the accusation claiming Maoists were forcing the women to lodge false complaints against the police to demoralise them. However, during investigation, the victims claimed the police had delayed their medical examination to destroy evidence.
A few women’s organisations opine that the case has been diluted by the government as cops are directly involved in the offence. “As the rapists are policemen here, the case has been diluted to protect the image of the country. As Vakapalli is a Maoist hotbed, the police have put the blame on rebels,” Mahila Chetana member K Padma.
“The probe did not go well during the initial stages. A committee was formed at Paderu and a number of dharnas were staged. Several tribal leaders launched hunger strikes, but the case didn’t move even after the government ordered a CBI-CID inquiry. Out of the total 11 victims, three women have died and the rest are awaiting justice,” she added.
According to the HRF, the victims approached the Paderu Court and filed a protest petition in 2008. The court took cognizance of the petition and admitted the trial process. To counter the court’s order, the police filed a stay in the AP High Court. After four years, the quash came up for final hearing in April, 2012. “Much to our relief and surprise, the Single Judge took a strict view of the enormity of the crime and ordered that the trial commence against 13 policemen,” HRF general secretary said.
But in August, 2012, the policemen moved the Supreme Court for a direction to quash the criminal case against them and the case was stayed. The apex court will now have to decide whether the trial should commence or not. It is yet to come up for hearing.