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Family of 17-yr-old wants Sordar, locality head behind bars

SCPCR chief seeks reports on delay in arrest of alleged rapists, medical tests

SHILLONG: Relatives of the 17-year-old girl, who was gang raped on the night of January 1, on Thursday demanded that the Sordar of Mawryngkneng and the locality head of Mawryngkneng Mawmang be arrested for shielding the six accused who, the family said, should not be granted bail.
Speaking to the media, the relatives of the victim said, “The Sordar (Peter J. Lawai) and the locality head are shielding the accused. One of the accused, Requestor Mukhim, is the younger brother of the headman of Mawryngkneng village. They also have to pay compensation to the victim.”
The girl’s aunt, who was in Shillong, narrated the ordeal that her niece had to go through on the night of January 1. “She went out around 8 pm as she came to my house for New Year dinner. Later, she visited a nearby neighbour’s place. It was here that she was gagged and hit on the head after which she fainted,” the aunt said.
The men then used their trousers to tie up the girl’s hands and legs and after raping her she was dragged to the rented house of one of the accused, Rimon Surong. She gained consciousness on January 2 at 10 am after which she fled from the place.
The aunt said the family searched for her after she did not return at night. They found her slippers and some clothes in a garden the next morning.
“She came home on her own and her nine-year-old sister saw her. The pants/trousers tied to her hands and neck were still intact. She was very weak and could not speak,” she said.
After the incident was reported to the Sordar, he wanted to come to a negotiation but the girl’s family and relatives refused.
“The Sordar told us to compromise as the accused are neighbours. He even said that they would provide us the money for treatment provided we keep mum on the rape incident,” the aunt said.
Another relative who was present at the press meet alleged that the Sordar even told the family not to inform outsiders about the matter. “They were called by the Sordar to compromise on the matter on January 2 and 3. On both days, the six boys were present. But now, they are nowhere to be found,” the relative said.
Victim denied medical treatment
However, the girl’s ordeal did not end there. The second round of harassment started when she was taken for treatment and was refused.
“On January 3, we took her to the emergency room at Woodland Hospital in Shillong but they refused (to treat her) citing rape case, which should be moved to the police department first. After that, we came back to Mawryngkneng and she was taken to Mawryngkneng PHC at 9.30 pm,” the relative said.
“Again on January 4, we went to Ganesh Das Hospital where they declined to treat her as the medical report from Mawryngkneng did not make any mention of the statement ‘refer to Ganesh Das Hospital’. Now she is given proper medical attention,” the relative said.
The aunt showed the reporters the wounds, bruises and cuts on the girl’s body which spoke volumes about the sexual assault and harassment meted to her.
Meena Kharkongor, chairperson of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said hospitals cannot refuse treatment to any victim. “I will write a letter to the DHS (director of health services) stating that the medical report should be provided to the victim. No hospital should refuse treatment while information to police can be done later.”
She added that she would meet the Health Minister to seek special centres for rape victims.
Fear stalks family
The relative said the girl’s family is living in fear after reporting the matter. “It should not have been delayed like this. In their frustration, they called me. I filed an FIR which was rejected in the first instance and then filed a second one which was accepted,” she said.
“I had a heated argument with the Sordar as he said it was our fault for allowing the girl to go out at night. It was only 8 pm. And we even thought it was safe as on the eve of New Year, the Dorbar Shnong of Mawryngkneng made a public announcement that any nuisance during New Year celebrations would not be tolerated and anyone who was involved in committing nuisance would be dealt with as per the law,” she added.
The families are poor, uneducated and are unaware of what ought to be done, which prevented them from reporting the matter, the relative reasoned.
Kharkongor shot a letter to the East Khasi Hills SP condemning the incident. She decried the role of Sordar and the Rangbah Dong (locality head) of Mawryngkneng Mawmang for interfering in the incident based on complaints by the victim’s family.
The Commission took note of the action of the 2nd OC who refused to pen down the FIR when the matter was narrated verbally by the aunt. In this connection, Kharkongor said it was not becoming of a police officer to do so.
The SCPCR chief has sought a full report on the delay in arresting the persons and that the medical report should be furnished to the Commission.
Meanwhile, Chairperson of Meghalaya State Commission for Women Theilin Phanbuh said, “It is sad that such crimes keep happening in the State which has degraded the society to a very low level.”
Stating that the traditional heads and chiefs should be on their toes to prevent crimes in the society, she said, “According to me, it is the Dorbar Shnong that should be on alert in curbing incidents of sexual assault.”
The Women’s Commission has done its bid to reach out to the victims. The Commission along with Women’s College will make a documentary on trafficking, Kharkongor said.
Commenting on the Marvelene’s Inn trafficking case involving the rape of a minor, she said, “As a Commission, we extend our moral support to her (SCPCR chairperson Meena Kharkongor). The law should take its course and people involved should be punished.”
Phanbuh also condemned the Jakrem rape incident and in Garo Hills, in which the rapist happened to be a cop. “He should be punished according to the law of the land,” she said.

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