VILLUPURAM: Four rape vicitms, who had deposited government-provided solatium in a national bank in the district, approached the collectorate on Monday with a petition after the bank account was frozen three months ago, for want of an identification card. Though the account was opened with a letter of special leave from the administration, the lack of identity documents had left the women unable to access the money.The four women, who have come forward asking for Aadhaar cards now, have a story of inexpressible horror. They belong to a family which has been living in two secluded hutments on a hillock in TK Mandapam village near Thirukovilur for the past 16 years.
Their houses are well removed from the village and owing to caste barriers, the residents of the village allegedly stay away from the community. Fates took a plummet on November 22, 2011, when three policemen on a two-wheeler reached the hutments looking for Kasi, one of the sons. By a ritual that was passed on from the British era, the police department has routinely been accused of raiding through Irula settlements in the district and picking up men on suspicion of a crime.
The family alleges that this was one of those incidents. Kasi, who was present at the house, was taken to the police station on a theft charge. The women were told to send Kasi’s father to the station to get him released. The house at that time had the parents, two daughters, two sons, their wives and young children. In the evening, Kasi’s father and elder brother took two other male relatives to the Tirukovilur station, leaving the womenfolk alone with the children.
Around 8 pm, eight policemen reached the house and ransacked it. The family’s savings were taken by the cops. Four of them forced the daughters and daughters-in-law into a jeep, took them to a grove and raped them. The youngest of them was 17 and one of the daughters-in-law was pregnant. The other four policemen, who had stayed back at the house had attacked the party that was returning from the police station and the whole family, including the children, were in police detention by this time in the night. The rape victims were allegedly taken back and raped again close to the midnight, this time with the mother forced to travel with them.
After the ordeal that lasted for two days and after some more taboo from the villagers, a case was filed on 26 November 2011 with the help of the Pazhangudi Irular Pathugappu Sangam (PIPS).
While the case was being heard, the administration had raised a doubt as to whether the victims belonged to the Irula community. They had then produced the community certificates provided to some relatives. After six years, the verdict had come in their favour on November 26, 2011, and the State had paid a solatium of `5 lakh to each of the four women. This money had been deposited at a nationalised bank in an account opened through a special permission letter. Back then, the family did not have documents needed to open a bank account. The interest on this account has been a vital sources of income.
After demonetisation and the drive to get all documentation linked to Aadhaar cards, the bank account was frozen three months ago, for want of ID cards. The family had approached the Thirukovilur Taluk office, but to no. Collector Dr L Subramanian, who received the petition, assured that it would be forwarded to the Thirukovilur revenue divisional office.