Candlelight vigil held in capital even as a shocked nation reacts to the rape and murder of two minor Dalit girls in Uttar Pradesh
By FI Network
Over 150 people gathered in the country’s capital yesterday to protest against the gruesome rape and murder of two minor Dalit girls in Badaun district in Uttar Pradesh. The two girls, cousins, who were 14 and 15 years of age respectively, were kidnapped at night outside their home on May 27. Their bodies were found the next day hanging from a mango tree in the village.
The Delhi protest – a candle light vigil- was organised by Reclaim the Night, Delhi, a collective that works to make Delhi a safe city for women. The vigil was held at Jantar Mantar where the Dalits from the Bhagana village in Haryana have been camping to protest against the usurpation of their land by the upper castes in the village and the rape of four minor Dalit girls in April 2014 under the banner of Bhagana Sangharsh Samiti.
Participants shared their grief and anguish over the Badaun violence, and many expressed their disillusionment with the authorities concerned for explicitly or implicitly supporting the accused instead of the girls. Speakers at the gathering recognised the need to fully acknowledge the intersection of caste discrimination with gender-based violence, which repeatedly leads to public, brazen – and often fatal – attacks on the most vulnerable Dalit bodies, that of women and girls.
The members of the Bhagana Sangharsh Samiti participated in the vigil, and their representatives spoke out against the caste-motivated gender violence faced by women and girls from their community. Protest songs were sung and slogans were chanted to show solidarity with the families of the victims at Badaun.According to the victim’s relatives and the villagers, the local Badaun police not only ignored the missing report that the girls’ parents had tried to file but also had roughed them up. The villagers then gheraoed the tree and refused to allow authorities to remove the bodies till the attackers were arrested. As the photographs of the dead bodies of young girls dangling from a tree spread across the nation, the police arrested all the five accused named in the FIR, including two police constables.
Three brothers, Pappu Yadav, Awadhesh Yadav and Urvesh Yadav have been booked under sections 302 (murder) and 376 (rape) of IPC while constables Sarvesh Yadav and Chhatrapal Yadav have been booked under Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of IPC. With protests breaking out across the nation, the Uttar Pradesh government on 30th May has decided to recommend a CBI investigation into the rape and murder.