“The rape survivor is not agreeing to compromise, so what can we do,” the brother of the rape accused said.


“The rape survivor is not agreeing to compromise, so what can we do,” the brother of the rape accused said. |

After the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots seven women alleged they were raped. Of the seven allegations, only six materialised into FIRs filed with the UP police. One woman withdrew her case because the accused allegedly threatened to kill her son, while the villagers claimed she had taken money and settled. Six women were left.

Five years later, by 2018, five of the six women changed their statement in courtThe Quint had exposed how in the midst of a delayed judicial process that was replete with threats, pressure and bribes, these five women told the court that the men they themselves named in their complaints had never raped them.

As a result, 22 rape accused got off the hook in the name of ‘societal harmony’.

Eight years later, in 2021, only one woman’s case against three rape accused continues in court.


“Till when can we keep running away from these people? Till when can we keep being scared of them? I wish all the women had fought the cases together and supported each other. The accused would have surely been punished at some point or the other. As I got to know they all settled one after the other, I kept a distance,” 32-year-old Aafreen (name changed to protect identity) tells this reporter as we sit to speak in her home in UP’s Shamli district.

Her home adorns grey walls, the kitchen is poorly lit and the bathroom does not have a door. But things were not always like this, she says.

Aafreen’s first marriage was an abusive one, with a man who beat her up for not bearing children. Frustrated, he had given her a divorce. After that she met Amaan and had married him five years before the riots.

They built a life for themselves in Shamli district’s Lank village. Their home had two rooms, a hall and relatives who lived close by. She worked as a tailor at home, while Amaan* (name changed) had a shop in the village. Soon she had two sons. But these years of bliss came to an end with the shocking turn of events of September 2013.

This is Kawaal village, where the riots of 2013 were sparked from.<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Photo: Aishwarya S Iyer/The Quint)</p></div>” srcset=”https://images.thequint.com/thequint%2F2021-09%2Fcbe858b5-1b4e-4435-95e2-ca6246cd4407%2F3.jpeg?w=480 480w, https://images.thequint.com/thequint%2F2021-09%2Fcbe858b5-1b4e-4435-95e2-ca6246cd4407%2F3.jpeg?w=960 960w, https://images.thequint.com/thequint%2F2021-09%2Fcbe858b5-1b4e-4435-95e2-ca6246cd4407%2F3.jpeg?w=1200 1200w, https://images.thequint.com/thequint%2F2021-09%2Fcbe858b5-1b4e-4435-95e2-ca6246cd4407%2F3.jpeg?w=2048 2048w” src=”https://images.thequint.com/thequint%2F2021-09%2Fcbe858b5-1b4e-4435-95e2-ca6246cd4407%2F3.jpeg”></p><p>Sixty kilometers away in Kawal village in neighbouring Muzaffarnagar district, violence had begun to spread after the killing of Shahnawaz by Gaurav and Sachin who were soon after caught by a mob and killed too. This sparked one of the most bloody riots of north India in 2013, where over 60,000 were displaced, 62 killed and many continue to be missing. Engulfed in the violence were several villages, Aafreen’s village was one of them.</p><p>While she was on the run to save her life, from the side of the fields in the village, she was caught and allegedly raped by three men who she named and could identify. They were Kuldeep, Sikander and Maheshvir who lived in her village.</p><p>After the 2013 riots, the Supreme Court had said the rape cases would be heard in fast track courts. Despite that, it took six years for the trial to begin in Aafreen’s case. In its eight year now, she tells us the statement of the last witness is being recorded.Also</p><h3>‘JUSTICE WILL BE SEEING THEM BEING PUNISHED’</h3><p>Aafreen tells us how she has been ridiculed, discredited and defamed, while her husband was harmed physically and threatened repeatedly. Applications had to be filed in court and she was provided security.</p><p>“They even reached my home. They defamed me by talking to people who live close to my home. They sought help from them to strike a compromise with me by convincing them they had not done anything with me. We were threatened and told we must compromise or we will be killed,” Aafreen says.</p><p>Aafreen lives a lonely life. She keeps mainly to her sons and relatives.<img alt=

(Photo: Aishwarya S Iyer/The Quint)