Memorandum to the Chief Minister, Rajesthan against
the honour killing of Neelam of Dausa district, Jaipur
Subject: Condemnation of the Honour Killing of Neelam of Shahadpur village and demanding immediate arrest of the accused and the police who caused the delay in taking action.
We Women and Human Rights organisations of Rajasthan are shocked at the killing of Neelam, daughter of Roop Singh of Shahadpur village, Mahua police station, Dausa district. It is a shame that Rajasthan is now in the same league as Haryana, Rural Delhi and Western UP of having caste panchayats and families take decisions in the name of the honour of the family, caste, village and kin that are unconstitutional and illegal with the police as a silent spectator if not a direct supporter to such decisions.
The murder of Neelam happened on the night of the 22nd (perhaps in the middle of the night) and she was cremated before day break in the early hours of the morning of the 23rd. As you are aware the particular village of Shahadpur is right behind the police station of Mahua. Inspite of the police learning of this incident that evening itself it did nothing beyond making an entry in the roznamcha that there were rumours that the girl had died under suspicious circumstances. It took no action for the next two days till women's groups took up the matter with the Home Secretary, the IG Jaipur Range II and went as a team of seven people to the Mahua thana on the evening of the 25th of September, 2004 and investigated the case.
While the incident is extremely shocking by itself what is outrageous
is that the police had recovered the girl Neelam only on the 28th of
August from Mumbai and had brought her back to her village. On the 20/07/'04
a case of abduction had been lodged by two families about their girls
Neelam of Shahadpur and Vaijanti from Mahua having disappeared with two
boys Rajesh Bairwa and Mahipal Singh Gurjar both residents of Shahadpur.
After more than a month the police had recovered all these under 18 adolescents
from Mumbai and had then made the required arrests. Both the arrested
boys (Rajesh Bairwa and Mahipal Singh Gurjar ) were in the juvenile home
and the girls were sent back to their respective homes. The girls being
minor were handed over to the parents. In their sec 164 Cr PC statements
that they made before a magistrate they said that had gone with boys
by choice and had been living as couples (Rajesh and Neelam were a pair
and Vaijanti and Mahipal were a couple) but were happy to go back to
Visit by Women and Human Rights Groups on 25th –26th September, 2004
We went to village Shahadpur at about 6 pm on the 25th. We first enquired from the police at Mahua thana and learnt that no FIR had been lodged. We went to village and met the family of the girl and interviewed them and the extended kin (kutumb) of the girl. We also went to the Bairwa Indira Awaas Basti in the village and met a lot of SCs who were terrified and were being threatened. We travelled to meet the girl's mother Kamla and her Chachi (Pushpa who is also her mother;s sister) to Ganwri in Bharatpur district where we learnt that they were in Bharatpur and then made the journey to the house of the maternal grandfather of Neelam where we met the mother, the chachi, maternal grandparents, mother's brother Om Prakash and others of the family.
From Bharatpur we came back to Mahua thana and learnt that the FIR for murder had been lodged. We then went to Naharkhurra in Toda Bhim (Karauli District) and met Rajesh Bairwa's mother Dhan Bai, Father Girdhari and Brother Amar Singh. all of them had left the village as they were threatened by the Gurjars that they would be killed. We returned today 26th September at 12 noon.
Our observations are clear
• the girl was murdered by her family on the night of the 22nd. And all evidence was destroyed by cremating the girl in the early hours. This honour killing was undertaken as the family was unable to take the shame that the daughter had lived with a Bairwa boy for a month and it was public knowledge.
The version of Padam Singh the Grand Uncle of the girl, Chacha Bhagvat Singh and relative Bachu Singh was that she died after an insect bite. At ten pm that night she had gone to urinate and came back saying that she had been hurt by a thorn or a insect "kanta laga". Next morning she never woke up to help her grand father milk the buffaloes and they discovered that she was dead. They immediately called for her women relatives (as the mother and chachi were both out) and by 4 am before day break they had cremated her. On asking whether they had taken her to a medical doctor or to a witch doctor they stated that they felt that there was no need for it.
Cremating the dead in the early hours is unheard of anywhere in rural Rajasthan and even the villagers (the SCs whom we interviewed) said that this was never done. Even the Chachi was surprised that they had not taken the young girl to a witch doctor or a hospital in Mahua as this was not the behaviour of the family.
• The Chachi Pushpa and the mother were packed of by the family to go to their parents in Bharatpur on the 21st and 22nd September, 2004 respectively. That is how they got rid of them. And they had not been informed till the 25th early hours when we met the maternal family of Neelam. The family had discovered about her death through the newspaper and were planning to go only on Sunday. They did not have confidence to challenge Padam Singh and had reconciled to her death.
That they cremated the girl without informing her mother or her Chachi who was also her mausi and maternal family (Bharatpur is only one hour away) shows that they wanted to quickly finish with the task of cremation and finish the evidence of how she died. This is unheard of, cremating without informing the mother and the maternal family.
• There was no mourning whatsoever in the family. There seemed to be complete normalcy as if nothing had happened. This was seen in the men and the womenfolk. We were offered mithai, milk and namkeen, as if there was a celebration for which we had gone.
• Roop Singh the father of Neelam who is a Government school teacher in Adalpur a nearby village did not come till the end of our stay which was for more than three hours. This we found quite suspicious as to why he seemed to be in hiding.
• The decision of killing the girl was definitely a collective one (of the kutumb panchayat with participation from nearby villages) and by the men of the family although executing the murder was carried out by the grand uncle, uncles and the father.
The Bairwas informed us that the larger extended family meetings took place on several occasions including a few days before she was murdered where this decision of finishing her was taken. Although the family members Padam Singh and Uncles Bhagvat Singh and Bachhu Singh kept saying that they had forgiven her for her mistake of running away with a dalit boy and had accepted her fully was absolute lies as many of the villagers confirmed that the girl was kept inside the four walls of the house and made to feel ashamed. Her engagement with one Subedar Singh had also been broken.
• The Gurjar community had terrified the Scheduled Caste people since the disappearance of the girls and they had threatened to call a jati panchayat and settle the dalits with their power. More than six Bairwa families had migrated out of the village. The SC mohalla next to the Gurjar basti was completely deserted and the Bairwas had moved to the Indira Awaas settlements at some distance. They had been individually threatened. Rajesh's family left the village in fear that they would also be killed so planned not to come till police would not provide support to them. In the month of July soon after the girl had disappeared they had taken Rajesh's mother to a Gurjar panchayat where more than two hundred people surrounded her and screamed at her and her family members. They were threatened that they would be sold for ten rupees in the Dangs, they would be raped, treated with indignity. The father of Rajesh Girdhari was picked up one day by the Gurjars and was threatened that he would be killed if he did not cooperate.
On hearing that the girl would be killed they felt that the community aggression of the Gurjars would once again be targeted against them and that they would be harmed. So the mother left the village on the 24th and like her husband and elder son Amar Singh went to Amar Singh's in-laws in Todi Bhim, Karauli district.
• the role of the police was definitely of providing cover to the murder as they thought that this would not come to the public eye and that the dalits would not have the courage to expose the matter. The police also ignored the fact that the Scheduled caste were being threatened by the Gurjars and inspite of that they withdrew the police chowki around the first of September. Although the six families had migrated the police was acting completely ignorant. After the death of the girl they should have anticipated that the mother of Rajesh would need protection but they did not bother at all.
We demand the following
We hope that you will not disappoint us in this matter and act promptly. Incase there is no action then we will be forced to start an andolan for justice.