Dr SK Pandey from Lucknow
A gruesome murder after gang-rape was committed on a minor Hindu girl by four Muslim youths in Asthan village under Nawabganj police station of Pratapgarh district about 65 kms from the district headquarters.
This is how it all came to light: A minor Hindu girl aged 12 disappeared in the evening of 21st June while she was going to the fields where her mother was working. She could not be found anywhere and the desolate parents kept on looking for her the whole night.
Only the next morning on 22nd June the dead-body of the girl was found in the nearby deserts at a secluded place. That created furore in the village and the police rushed in. Meanwhile, another minor girl informed everyone that she had seen. The girl on the scene of the crime surrounded by the four youths – Imran, Farhan, Taufeek and Saif – of Deehe, a small hamlet near Asthan village. She also revealed that she had heard the cries of Rekha, but she was so scared that she did not reveal anything. Some other people also informed that they had seen these four young men going to and coming from that area where the dead-body was found.
The parents insisted on named FIR under sections 376, 302, 201 of IPC including section 310 of the SC/ST Act, but the police was dithering on the matter. On 23rd June the dead-body reached the village and the entire village community gathered for the last rites. Meanwhile it came to light that the police had not taken any action till then against the accused, and that they are being treated softly by the officials at the police station, and that they have not been sent to jail so far. It was being alleged that the police feels helpless because the culprits belong to the Muslim community and that the government has given secret instructions to protect the members of the Muslim community in any situation.
Ultimately, the villagers of Asthan village lost their patience and set ablaze the houses of four accused and later the angry mob torched the entire village. Almost the entire hamlet Deehe, with more than two dozen houses were gutted in fire and property worth several lacs was destroyed. Only the pucca houses remained in a charred condition.
Even though the IG, DIG, DM and SP had reached the spot trying to rescue the people, the angry protesters did not allow the fire brigade and the police to enter the village for about two hours. Most of the villagers had left the village earlier, as they had sensed the danger. They took shelter in some madarsa and mosque near Kunda.
After the incident of violence and arson the police, however, swung into action and sent the accused to jail, after lodging proper named FIR. But now they started intimidating and threatening the Hindu community, sending some of them to jail for committing violence and arson. The Hindu organisations have threatened to launch state-wide stir, if innocent people are led to harassment and mistreatment.
Shri Manoj Srivastava, the Organising Secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, visited the village and assured the Hindu brethren that they will be given all possible support. He also announced that the case of the minor Hindu girl will be taken up by them in the court, and it will be ensured that the guilty are brought to books.
Meanwhile, instead of punishing the culprits the police arrested the protesting Hindus. Till the time going to press, they had not been released.