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Rape victim’s fight for justice, gets support from women organisations

Mandi: Various women rights organizations in Mandi district have joined hands to demand justice for Nirmala Devi, who was allegedly raped by the SHO of Mandi Sadar Police Station way back in 1994. They have written to the President, Prime Minister, Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Chief Minister and Governor of the state to take back all medals including the President’s Medal for Police Services from OC  Thakur, who was the then SP of Mandi and is presenty serving as IG CID, for not acting against the accused and trying to avoid the filing of an FIR against the culprit.

Nirmala Devi, in blue dress, along with the members of the women organisations

The efforts for getting justice for Nirmala Devi gathered ground when Jaivanti Devi – district president of Akhil Bharatiya Jan Vaadi Samiti; Hemlata Pathania – President, Himalayan Viklaang Association, Sarita Handa – member Nagar Parishad Mandi and Erica Sharma – member IPTA, addressing a joint press conference had urged that the departmental action taken against the then SP, after a High Court order, was a mere eyewash, although the fault of the offender was of a much higher degree. They also urged the state government to remove the IG from his duty. A signature campaign would be initiated from 25th Aug in order to secure justice for the victim. They also urged the state government to provide financial aid to her.
On the occasion the rape victim said that although departmental proceedings were initiated against the then SP, but the resultant actions against him very unsatisfactory. The victim also alleged that when she had approached the SP with her complaint, she was made to wait outside his office till 5 pm and neither her complaint was registered nor medical tests of the victim and the guilty officer were considered necessary by the officer.
Akhil Bharatiya Janvadi Mahila Samiti would honour Nirmala Devi, who had fought against the police atrocities for so long, during the state level conference to be held on 21st and 22nd Aug. President of the samiti said that the victim had to sell her land holding to fight the ensuing legal battle. She has set an example for the hill folks that no matter how difficult and time consuming the fight for justice may be one should not loose hope.
Advocate J.P. Guleria, who was the prosecution lawyer for the victim assured that he would fight her case free of cost. He also alleged that the complete governmental machinery was instrumental to suppress this case. The case which was registered after the orders from the High Court was converted into ‘Case of Cancellation’ by the police. It was only after a private complaint that this case could finally be registered. He said that this fight for justice is still on and he will leave no stone unturned in securing justice for Nirmala Devi.
This case dates back to 30th Aug 1994 when Nirmala Devi and her sister were called to the Mandi Sadar police station in relation to an enquiry in a case against her husband, who was in police custody. On the pretext of enquiry the then SHO Gulzar Mohammad took her to the fourth floor of the police station and raped her. He threatened her of dire consequences in case she disclosed this to anyone. As her husband was in police custody so she kept quite. During this time her husband was released on bail. On 19th Sept 1994 she was again called to the police station and raped again. After this when she and her mother approached the then SP with their complaint they were made to wait and no complaint was registered. It was only when they made a private complaint with the CJM that a case was initiated and the Mandi Sessions Court found the SHO guilty and awarded imprisionment for 10 years along with ` 20,000 as fine. The High court too upheld the decision of the lower court and further directed the government that action must be taken against the then SP. These orders of the High Court forced the government to initiate departmental enquiry against the then SP Mandi and a token punishment of reduction of the lower of the existing time scale was given, which was inadequate considering the gravity of the situation.
These women organizations have alledged that the government have let off a senior police officer with a very small punishment although the manner in which the police department had made efforts to cover up this whole matter severe reprimand for the officer is a must.

Edited by: Johar Singh

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