6 booked for gang rape of activist at Tikri border
In a problematical development for the ongoing farmers' protests, Haryana Police booked six persons on Sunday in connection with the gang rape and abduction of a 25-year-old activist at New Delhi's Tikri border. The accused have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The activist has, however, died while receiving treatment for COVID-19 at a private hospital on April 30.
Accused had set up tents under Kisan Social Army's banner
The accused have been identified as Anil Malik, Anup Singh, Ankush Sangwan, and Jagdish Brar and also include two women. They had set up tents at Tikri border under the banner of Kisan Social Army, reported The Times of India. All six were booked under IPC Sections 365, 342, 376-D, 506 and 120-B after Haryana Police constituted a Special Investigation Team in this regard.
Victim from Bengal, first instance occurred on April 11: FIR
According to the FIR, the victim had first met the accused at a public farmers' meeting in Hoogly, West Bengal, on April 1. An artist and designer, she was able to convince her parents to allow her to visit Delhi and support the farmers' protest. In a Punjab-bound train on April 11, accused Anil Malik had allegedly tried to force himself on her.
Victim was allegedly forced to share tent with accused
The FIR, filed by the victim's father, stated that she was forced to share the tent with the accused. She told her father over the phone that they were behaving indecently and trying to pressurize and blackmail her. After she was diagnosed with COVID-19 on April 21, she told her father at the Delhi hospital that she was sexually assaulted in the tent.
Will ensure no such thing happens again: Farmer leader
"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," Punjab Kisan Union leader Jasbir Kaur Natt told TOI.
Farmer leaders couldn't explain delay in filing of FIR
Reportedly, Sanyukt Kisan Morcha leaders said they had investigated the matter and did not want to make any comments without verifying the details. However, they failed to explain why they did not approach the police even after the victim's claims were authenticated four days before. The victim had been shifted to a women's tent and also recorded a video statement prior to her death.
'Most SKM leaders knew about the incident'
BKU Ekta Ugrahan women's wing head, Harinder Kaur Bindu said that most SKM leaders knew about the incident, reported News 18. "We are surprised why they kept silent and did not allow us to meet her father, who was under immense pressure," she said. Meanwhile, Joginder Singh Ugrahan, the farmers' body's president, said that the accused were removed from the protest's site.
SKM issues statement on 'zero tolerance,' calls for social boycott
The SKM on Sunday said it has zero tolerance toward violence against women and called for a social boycott of the accused. "We are committed to take this fight for justice to its logical conclusion," it said, extending support to the victim's family. The accused were also barred from participating in the movement and a public appeal for their social boycott has been issued.
'Kisan Social Army was never the authorized social media voice'
The farmers' outfit further said the 25-year-old woman came from West Bengal along with some persons posing to be "Kisan Social Army" members, The New Indian Express reported. The SKM added that the Kisan Social Army was never the authorized social media voice of the farmers' group, and none of its handles have anything to do with the movement.