*October 29, 2020*
· #IfWeDoNotRise, #JusticeforHathrasRapeVictim, #AnnihilateCasteAndPatriarchy
The alleged gang rape and brutalization by upper caste men of a young Dalit woman from Hathras shook the country. She died in a hospital in Delhi. The police refused to hand over the body to her family for last rites and cremated her in the middle of the night, not only violating the rights of the family but wilfully destroying all evidence. The state response smacked of wilful negligence and complicity of high-level officials, including the police.
To mark one month of her brutal death today, October 29, If we do not rise…, a national campaign of over 600 women’s groups, Dalit women’s organizations and movements, LGBTQIA groups, human rights organizations and other civil society networks has given a call for a nationwide campaign. The nationwide protest on 29 October 2020 is to give voice to the cumulative outrage of citizens with hundreds of public protests as well as a social media campaign reaching out to a much larger constituency.
To ensure that justice prevails, the If We Do Not Rise… campaign demands:
1. The Chief Minister of UP should resign immediately The lack of timely police action, hurried late night cremation of the girl without the consent of the family and repeated denial of rape by high ranking officials and representatives of the UP government highlight the complicity of the state machinery in the horrific incident. The UP CM must be held accountable for the spate of caste and gender-based atrocities in the state. The Chief Minister has no moral authority to continue in the post.
2. The Supreme Court has directed the Allahabad High Court to monitor the CBI probe, we demand that the investigation be completed in a time bound manner.
3. Time-bound inquiry and prosecution of police officers and officials of the district administration under the Indian Penal Code and the SC/ST (PoA) Act for their complicity in the incident including the late night cremation of the girl without consent and participation of the family, must be ensured.
4. The family must be provided all rights as per the provisions of the SC/ST (PoA) Act and provided protection from any backlash and violence as they pursue the matter. Exemplary compensation must be provided to the family along with the provision for re-locating to a different place, if they so choose.
5. Legal action must be initiated against all persons threatening or putting pressure on the family, including those of the dominant caste who were seen on camera a few days after the incident, defending the accused and issuing threats.
6. An independent empowered committee must be set up to take stock of implementation of the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee report. (2013)
7. Long-pending police reforms to address issue of caste and religious bias in the police force and to ensure mechanisms for accountability of officers must be immediately implemented.
8. We condemn the recent incidents of rape and sexual assault on young and young girls in Punjab. The perpetrators of rape in Hoshiarpur should be punished within the stipulated time frame. Police personnel who assaulted and raped a girl in Bawana Custodial rape should be charged under Section SC and ST Act, Gender Violence and Rape section and should be investigated by an independent agency. An independent judicial inquiry should be held in this matter.
9. Special arrangements should be made for the protection of women in Punjab in view of the increasing number of sexual assaults and atrocities against women, especially young and young girls and Punishment of criminals should be arranged as per the recommendations of Justice Verma Committee (2013).
10 The Punjab Government should establish short and long term residences and provide jobs for their rehabilitation as per the guidelines of the Hon’ble High Court for girls victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence and Girls of Violent Marriage Violence. Improve policing and provide training on women’s issues from time to time.
11 Applications made by women in police stations should be registered without delay and without any discrimination on the basis of gender or caste.
12 We demand Police reform and gender sensitization workshops should be held regularly for the Punjab Police officials .
13. We also seek proper Implementation of the Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) POSH -Act, 2013 and Ensure the formation of sexual violence and gender discrimination committees in the workplace.
14 Provide jobs for the rehabilitation of acid attack victims .
15. The complaint made to the helpline number 112 for women should be treated as an FIR.
The Hathras case is only the tip of the iceberg. Statistics suggest that every day 10 Dalit women are raped in India. Following the Hathras tragedy, there have been horrific reports of rapes of Dalit women in Balrampur, Azamgarh, Bulandshahr and other parts of India. If we do not rise and demand that immediate steps be taken to address the crisis, gender and caste based violence with continue with impunity.
In Punjab more than 20 protests were held in form of Dharnas and rallies across state in various places in Amritsar, Banga, Bhatinda, Chandigarh, Faridkot, Fazilka , Gurdaspur Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Jalalabad , Ludhiana, Mansa, Muktsar , Moga, Patiala, Taran Taran. Effigies of Modi and Yogi were burnt in Amritsar at three different places .
In Patiala the protests were attended by women and young girls in Large number and a charter of demands was given to Assistant Commissioner, Ismeet VijayPratap .
The Campaign also submitted Charter of Demands to the Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today.
Punjab State Coordinators
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
Kanwaljit Kaur Dhillon