Molested on bus, 7 Dalit girls fear recurrence
Rajkot: Seven college-going Dalit girls in Kutch’s Mandvi taluka, who were molested and harassed by a group of upper caste youths aboard a moving GSRTC bus.
The girls said the policemen deployed on ST buses after the incident, are nowhere to be seen after the Janmashtami holiday. Six persons who were arrested for the crime on August 21 and 22, were released on bail on August 28. Police strengthened patrolling during the college hours on requests from village elders.
Babu Goradia, girls’ advocate, said: “We requested police protection because the girls were scared and police agreed to strengthen patrolling on the roads from Mota Layja village to Mandvi and outside the college. A constable was deputed to stay inside the bus, but he has not been seen for the last two days.”
“A few days ago, people from the Gadhvi community had gathered in the village with weapons and the situation turned tense. Mandvi police were called they reached the spot quickly which prevented clashes,” said Goradia.
The girls had lodged a complaint with Mandvi police stating how the boys would make sexual gestures by lying on the seats next to theirs. They not only made overt sexual gestures but also allegedly used casteist slurs. When the girls would protest, some of them even put their legs on the girls. Though the girls were being traumatized for a long time, they did not speak up, fearing that their parents would stop their education.
The mustered the courage to lodge a complaint after the accused persons assaulted a co-passenger who had tried to stop them from molesting the girls on August 21.
J N Panchal, deputy superintendent of police, SC/ST cell, Kutch told TOI: “We have not withdrawn police protection. If the villagers complain about this, we will see that cops are deputed.”
The victims are the residents of Mota Layja village while the accused live in Panchotia village. Police arrested Naran Gadhvi, Sambhu Gadhvi, Haresh Gadhvi, Mohan Gadhvi and Govind Gadhvi on the basis of the FIR and the statements of eyewitnesses.
Dhanji Maheshwari, a community leader, said “I asked the girls to speak to the Mandvi police inspector about the police patrolling issue. If no action is taken, we will approach the superintendent of police.” Maheshwari added that the girls’ parents had decided to stop their education after the incident. “I convinced them not to do so as other people would also stop sending their girls to schools or colleges,” he said.
One person wrongly arrested, say girls
Rajkot/Bhuj: The seven Dalit girls told the court that police had arrested one wrong person in the molestation case as his name of similar to that of the accused. During the hearing on their bail application, the girls said two arrested persons are named Naran Gadhvi. One is a resident of Panchotia, while the other one, from Bhada village, is innocent.
“The girls didn’t know the full names of the accused so we made arrests based on witnesses statements. If we have arrested the wrong person, the accused’s lawyer can oppose his arrest in court. I am surprised that girls are saying what the accused is supposed to say,” said Panchal.
Courtesy: By Josh Clayton/ Clayton caller