• Jharkhand Gang-Rape Case: Four of the five victims are tribals

    The National General Secretary of Indian People's Theatre Association has condemned the incident and demanded that accused should be arrested immediately

    Abdul Alim Jafri

    July 2, 2018

    Image Courtesy: Newsclick



    Jharkhand is on the boil again; this time, because of the five theatre artists of a non-government organisation (NGO) who were gang-raped on Tuesday by at least half a dozen men in Kochang village of Khunti district, Jharkhand. The accused allegedly filmed the incident on their mobile phones and threatened the women that it would be made viral if they approached the police. 

    All of the five victims had been engaged in an anti-trafficking campaign by an NGO and they had travelled to Jharkhand to raise awareness through nukkad natak performances (street plays) on migration and human-trafficking issue. While they were performing the play, they were forced to sit inside the car, taken to a nearby forest area, and gang-raped.

    National General Secretary of Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), Rakesh Kumar condemned the incident and demanded that the accused be arrested immediately. 

    Speaking to NewsClick, Kumar said, "The Jharkhand unit of IPTA has already taken up the matter and has intervened effectively. National Committee directs its units to protest against the incident in coordination with other progressive organisations."

    "The Gang Rape of the five anti-trafficking campaigners in Jharkhand brings to the fore the safety of anti-trafficking campaigners. We have to reach the remotest villages & conflict situations to ensure young children & women don't fall prey to traffickers," Rishikant, the spokesperson of an NGO named Shakti Vahini who worked on human trafficking in deep interior villages told NewsClick

    Without naming any NGOs, Rishikant further added that when working in the Naxal areas, you should inform the local police to avoid such horrific incident, but some organisations work beyond their limit and land themselves in trouble and create problems for others too.

    On being asked that there is a rumour that the accused could be tribal, Rishikant said that he and his team have been working for a long but this kind of an incident has never had happened with them before. For a journalist sitting in Delhi, it is very easy to point fingers and believe in the fake news without fact checking, he said. He continued that there is a standard operating procedure for the people, journalists, and workers, besides the safety guidelines, that need to be followed, when visiting such areas. 

    Jharkhand is among the top five states in India that have reported increasing cases of human trafficking, with traffickers targeting poor villages, convincing vulnerable families to send their daughters away for employment, said Rishikant.

    National Commission for Women (NCW) has also formed a three-member fact-finding committee that is visiting the state and will submit its report and recommendations at the earliest. 

    Speaking to NewsClick over the telephone, NCW chairperson, Rekha Sharma said, "The team has already reached Ranchi on Friday night and they will be reaching on the spot later tonight. I can only update you once the team reaches there."

    She further added that she has also written a letter to Jharkhand Police director-general D K Pandey over the issue but has not received any update yet. 

    Ashwini Sinha, S P, Khunti, said "Out of the five victims, four are tribals, not the accused. Further investigation is underway and we are hopeful that we will nab all of the accused very soon. The incident happened while they were performing a street play at R C Mission School in Khunti’s Kochang block."  

    First published in Newsclick

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