On 25 May, eight members of a family were waylaid while they were on their way to Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. One man was killed, and four women of the family were raped. The brutality of the violence stunned the nation.
Months after the incident, the family says the memory of that horrific night won’t let them live in peace. They say they are terrified that the accused will hunt them down and kill them.
I am 60 years old and they didn’t even spare me. People won’t let me step out of the home. They keep asking about it, can you imagine the shame?
The Fateful Night of 25 May
The women cringed as they recalled the attack. Eight members of the family – four men and four women – were travelling from Jewar to Bulandshahr for a medical emergency on 25 May. It was around midnight when they stopped to fix a flat tyre. Before they knew it, a group of six armed men of the Bawariya gang surrounded the car.
They put guns to our heads. My brother had money on him, he was robbed and beaten up. Then they took us into the farms to rape us.
Rape Survivor 1
The abductors ripped the dupattas off the women and used it to tie the hands of the men. They then raped the women, one after the other.
When one of the men tried to stop them, the accused shot him. He later succumbed to his injuries. His wife, a rape survivor, has been in mourning ever since the incident. As is tradition in her community, widows refrain from meeting males other than their children, during the four-month mourning period that she is now in.
She broke down as she told The Quint that she did not know how to care for her seven children.
My husband asked the men, ‘Don’t you have sisters and daughters in your families?’ He didn’t say anything else. They shot him for that. They took away all his money. They took everything away from us.
Rape Survivor 2
The UP government gave the family Rs 5 lakh as compensation. The state has also promised free education for children – a promise that has not yet been fulfilled.
One of the survivors says that the amount means nothing for a family that has lost its sole breadwinner.
I have 7 children. I have lost my husband. I have no house to live in. How do I even get food for my children? I don’t have money to even feed them milk. I give them tea instead.
Rape Survivor 2
“What If They Attack Us Again?”
Four men of the Bawariya gang have been arrested in connection with the crime. Two of the accused, however, are still on the run. The family says they are worried that the other members of the gang may hunt them down.
We are scared. We are unable to sleep, day or night. We don’t know when those gangsters might attack us again.
Rape Survivor 2
The family no longer steps out of their home. And when they do, they do so only in groups. The children do not go to school. It has been two months since they’ve left the house.
One of the women said that the family also tried to commit suicide.
We poured oil on ourselves to try and end it. When we go out, people point and say that we’re the ones who got raped. It’s been two months and two days, and we haven’t stepped out of our house out of shame.
Rape Survivor 3
Life will never be the same for the family. One brother was killed in an accident a few years ago, while another breathed his last on the night of 25 May when he was shot. The sole surviving brother is old, and unable to carry on the family’s scrap-dealing business.
Together, the family has 20 children who need to be cared for. But the third brother, whose wife was raped, says he is too afraid to leave home.
Ever since this happened, we have been unable to work. We could be targeted again.
Rape Survivor’s Husband
When asked about why he thought his family would be targeted again, he said that he feared for their lives because they were witnesses to the crime.
The family blames the UP police for failing to come to their aid. None of this would have happened if the police had responded on time, they allege. “My brother would have been alive had the police reached on time,” one of the rape survivors said.
Police reached two and a half hours late. Had they been on time, we wouldn’t have been raped and my brother would have been alive.
Rape Survivor 1
The family has moved the court seeking gun licences for personal safety. “We want to kill those rapists, we want to punish them with our own hands,” one of the rape survivors said, as she broke down.
The family is now fighting a two-pronged battle. One, in the courts as they fight for justice. The other, a fight for survival.
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