The farmers’ protest in Delhi has courted controversy with the police filing FIR against six persons in connection with gang rape and abduction of a 25-year-old activist at Tikri Border.
The victim, who later contracted Covid-19, died during treatment, The Times of India reported.
The accused have been identified as Anil Malik, Anup Singh, Ankush Sangwan and Jagdish Brar, along with two other women. They have been booked under IPC sections 365, 342, 376-D, 506, 120-B. All of them had set up tents at Tikri border under the banner of Kisan Social Army.
The FIR stated that a delegation of farmers, including the accused, had held a public meeting in Hooghly, West Bengal, on April 1. The victim, an artist and designer, had at the time met them. She later came to Delhi to support the farmers’ protest.
When the victim was on her way to Punjab on a train on April 11, accused Anil Malik allegedly tried to force himself upon her.
On reaching the Tikri Border protest site on April 12, the victim was forced to share the tent with the accused as she was alone, according to the FIR.
She then told her father on the phone that the accused had been trying to pressurise and blackmail her. Her family brought the issue to the notice of the farmer leaders and her statement was video-recorded. Following this, the victim was shifted to another tent with women protesters.
However, she developed fever on April 21 and was shifted to a private hospital where she was diagnosed with Covid-19.
When her father came to Delhi, she told him that she had been sexually assaulted on the train and also in the tent by the accused.
The woman also requested that the accused be punished but the farmers’ movement shouldn’t be disrupted in the process.
She died during treatment at the private hospital on April 30.
No one to explain delay in filing FIR
No farmer leader, however, explained the reason behind the delay in filing of the FIR. According to Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) leaders, after they came to know that a woman had been sexually harassed, they probed the matter.
The leaders, however, failed to explain why they did not approach the police as the woman’s claim was authenticated four days ago and the Kisan Social Army camp was removed from the site.
BKU Ekta Ugrahan woman wing head Harinder Kaur Bindu said that most of the SKM leaders knew about the incident.
“We are surprised why they kept silent and did not allow us to meet her father, who was under immense pressure,” she said.
BKU Ekta Ugrahan president Joginder Singh Ugrahan, whose organisation has a huge presence at Tikri Border, said when the matter was brought to their notice they conducted a preliminary inquiry and found the victim’s statement to be true.
He said the accused were removed from the protest site and an FIR was also registered, adding that the SKM stands with the victim’s family.
Call for a social boycott of all accused
The SKM on Sunday gave a call for a social boycott of all the accused, who sexually harassed the victim. The organisation also said that it will fight a legal battle against the accused and will stand by the aggrieved family.
SKM stated that when they came to know about the matter, the morcha committees decided to take stern action against the accused.
They removed the tent of the Kisan Social Army and announced the ouster of the accused from the movement. The SKM said the Kisan Social Army was not its authorised representative and its social media handle was not associated directly with SKM.
Punjab Kisan Union leader Jasbir Kaur Natt, who was in direct contact with the woman before her death, said that it is a matter of serious concern.
“Here at the protest, there is no difference between males and females and women in large numbers are participating. The farmers will investigate and ensure no such thing is allowed to happen again,” Natt said.