As the city of Shillong mourns the brutal attack on the teenager girl from 4 -1/2 miles Upper Shillong, East Khasi Hills District, Meghalaya, many are outraged and angry and crying for justice. Rape cases in Meghalaya seem to see a slow death as cases linger, with trauma to the victims and their families right from the beginning. Therefore, it is disturbing that there is selective outrage against crimes on women and children in our state. This incident could very well not have occurred had the outrage being displayed now been there all along for each heinous crime of rape that occurred in the state including those in far flung villages which often go unreported and are silenced due to the influential links of perpetrators. We need to question this erratic display of solidarity. Why is it that the more gruesome the crime the louder the voices calling for action and often these voices are calling for equally gruesome punishment such as lynching, death penalty and others which instigates the mob.
Can there be a scale measuring the injustice? Isn’t a rape a rape even if it is not sensationalized or the victim is not a ” perfect victim”. What was done to the girl at Upper Shillong is horrid but what is equally condemnable is when society and women’s groups make excuses for not demanding justice for victims on grounds of ethnicity, “character” of the victim, sexuality, socio religious background etc. Even in this case, it is important to remember that inefficient policing was not interested in finding the perpetrator of the crime but to force a confession to bring such a case to a close violating all rules and principles laid down by law including human rights. In this essay, I want to point you to some cases that i have closely followed to highlight the crisis that women in this so called matrilineal society face. No amount of candlelight or rallies will solve this issue if we do not look at the deeper causes and experiences of various cases of violence against women and girls.
According to the Police reports, the time taken for medical examination to be carried out is 2-3 hours. The victims are made to wait till doctors are available. Copies of the medical certificates or Post Mortem are not provided to the victims or their families. This keeps them in a huge dilemma. Then there comes pressure from the village or the traditional heads who force a compromise. Some of the families of the rape survivors are socially boycotted by the Village Dorbar. More harassment awaits when the victims come for statements in Courts where they are made to wait or are made to come again and again, as the court is not sitting for some reason or the other.
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The search for justice becomes tougher when the case is registered and investigated by the protectors of the law, who have no inclination to solve the case but interested in making money from the perpetrator.[/pullquote] The search for justice becomes tougher when the case is registered and investigated by the protectors of the law, who have no inclination to solve the case but interested in making money from the perpetrator. This answers for many of the cases in Jaintia Hills where the perpetrators are declared absconders even when the police know their names and police do little to apprehend the accused. For a rape survivor or families of a rape victim who dies due to the brutal attacks by the rapist, to achieve justice is a far cry when law enforcers are not diligent in their investigations to punish the perpetrators. This also leads to anger and frustrations among the public, who are helpless when such heinous acts are perpetrated and no action is taken to eradicate such monstrous acts perpetrated on women.
Mentioning a couple of instances of rape cases, which were overturned due to insensitive law enforcers and prosecutors and in which should have been 100% conviction, is compulsory, so that people are made aware about how manipulations are carried out right under the nose of the Supervising Police Officials and the Courts:
Rape of a 5 year old child by her Father, Demseiniong, Shillong
A minor child (5) was raped by her father at Demseiniong, Laitumkhrah in the year 2010 and an FIR was filed by us on 3rd Dec 2010 as the mother and other ladies who were neighbours had informed me of the child being raped by her father. The child had literally sustained injuries and demonstrated what the father had done to her to the neighbour and her mother.
On knowing of the incident we went to meet the then Addl SP, EKH,Shri Vivek Syiem who sent a woman police officer with me to meet the girl. We met her at the work place of her father’s and as we talked to her and asked her what he had done, she showed us with signs what he had done. We then immediately lodged the FIR but unfortunately since the father was well connected he was released within 5 days and he could influence the wife who now has turned hostile. The IO of the case has also been transferred and the case was handed over to an officer who was not yet experienced as she was appointed on compassionate grounds. The case was registered as Rynjah PS case No 79(12)2010 u/s 376 (f) IPC.
Later on taking out copies of the orders and case records, it was found that bail was moved on the 7th Dec 2010 citing that we wanted to humiliate the accused (when I did not even know him) and that the mother of the victim never approached the NGO (again a lie as she came with two other women and revealed all this to us before them too). APP (Asst Public Prosecutor) had raised objections to the bail on the 7th Dec 2010, but on the 9th Dec 2010 again the bail was moved and no mention of the name of the APP in the order and bail was granted with sureties of 20,000, and conditions that he will not hamper with evidence even though the IO had prayed on the 9th Dec 2010 for the recording of Statements of witnesses to be recorded. Still, the court allowed him bail. (Now he is the father and the child still stays with him so how can she not be influenced? Mother has already turned hostile and had wanted us to withdraw the FIR)
Witness statement was taken by the court only after the alleged accused has been released,. The victim girl’s statement was recorded by an Executive Magistrate and only 3 lines were mentioned by the girl where it states that the Father did not do anything and that he was her father. If this same victim showed us with signs what her father did to her, how the magistrate could not have got the right statement from the child, This indicates the Magistrate did not try to help the little child.
The Police had recorded statement of a lady doctor who had more than a month ago, examined the girl and this doctor had stated to the police that the mother had brought the child and told the doctor that she was complaining of pain since the time she slept with her father.
The case was charge-sheeted against the father initially (RTI reply never mentioned the case was not rape) but strangely the charge of rape was dropped and Section 354 IPC instead was added. The handwriting though of the section 354 seems to have been written by someone else in the Final Form Report and not by the Investigating Officer (IO) and it seems to have been tampered and changed.
Then as I was the complainant and visiting the courts often I learnt to take out certified copies of the case records and would like to share further details on the orders of this case.
On 24.02.2012, the order was passed even though the order sheet was not written by the Judge but only shown signed by the him/her. The order mentions that the IO submitted connected papers related to the case CS No 4/2012 dated 16/02/2012 U/s 354 IPC. The case was endorsed to a Judicial Magistrate First Class for Disposal.
Again on 11.06.2012, record is put up and the order (typed) mentions that the IO has filed a charge sheet against the accused under section 354 IPC Register the case afresh and same is now endorsed to the same JMFC (same JMFC earlier endorsed to on 24.2.2012).
On 7.3.2013, the case record is placed before the JMFC who fixes 22.3.2013 for the S/R and the appearance of the accused.
On 22.3.2013 the CR is put up again but no S/R is received from the executing Officer. The Order was passed for the re-issue of summon with notice to bailers. 29.4.2013 was fixed for S/R and the appearance of the accused.
On 29.4.2013 the PO is on leave. The summons is issued to the accused person but it returned un-served. Case record was to be put up when PO joins.
30.4.2013 – PO joins and Order was passed for re- issue of summon with notice to bailers. Fixed next date 31.5.2013 for S/R and appearance of the accused.
31.5.2013 – Accused is present in court and orders passed to prepare copies for the accused. Next date fixed on the 28.6.2013 for copies.
28.6.2013- Accused has appointed 2 legal counsels but copies to be served to him not ready. Refix date 31.7.2013
31.7.2013- Case was transferred to another court for disposal and the learned Court mentions that accused is present but copies are not yet ready. Refix 3.9.2013 for copies
3.9.2013 – Defense Counsel present but copies not yet ready. Refix 7.10.2013 for copies.
7.10.2013- The accused is present with Counsel but copies are not yet ready. Refix 26.11.2013 for copies
26.11.2013- The accused is present with Counsel but copies are not yet ready. Refix 22.1.2014 for copies.
22.1.2014- Defense Counsels present and copies ready and duly supplied. Fix 20.3.2014 for C/C Prosecution to be informed.
20.3.2014- Accused, Defense and APP absent. Orders were passed for issue of B/WA of Rs 3000 against accused Date fixed 13.5.2014 for Report and C/C
13.5.2014 – The accused is present with Counsel. No APP appointed yet. Send reminder to PP. Refix 24.6.2014 for C/c
Then there was no hearing on 24.6.2014 but the case was put up on 21.10.2014 – and orders were passed to issue summon to accused and the date was fixed for 3.12.2014 for appearance and C/C. Till date I have not been called for the cross examination. I have to again apply for certified copies of all orders from 21.10.2014. I had informed the APP to raise objections on the change of sections.
This is just one of the cases of rape of a minor where within 5 days bail was granted, and the victim is with the perpetrator and the mother who has turned hostile. It shows how insensitive the whole system is; notice how conveniently the IO (Investigating Officer) was changed, the case handed over to someone who was new to the force, while charge-sheeting sections of “rape” was changed to “molestation” in spite of the Senior Police’s supervision. In six dates copies were not served when all it takes is to get the copies provided by the IO Xeroxed and supply to the alleged accused charge-sheeted in the case. It is noticed that PP’s (public prosecutors) need reminders. In the meantime the victim would have forgotten and would also have been influenced by the father and would be scared to even say a word. As I file this report I am yet to be called by the court to be cross examined for this case. This happens in many influential cases, where certain defence lawyers pull strings, with the help of someone in the Police Force getting access to records.
Coal Tycoon Case
Now here in this other sensational rape case of a rich coal tycoon Small Phawa who raped a minor way back on 30th Nov 2011 at a locality called Riatsiatsim in Jowai, West Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya. He was never ever put in custody or sent to jail. A case for rape was filed against Small Phawa on the 2rd Dec 2011. The victim was immediately taken for medical examination on the 2nd evening and the report states there was a bruise on the left thigh coinciding with the statement of the victim that he gave her a blow on the thigh. On the 5th Dec 2011 a request was made by the IO for the victim’s statement to be recorded before the Magistrate.
On the 8th Dec 2011 he moved for anticipatory bail.
On the 9th Dec 2011, the Magistrate granted him 7 days of interim bail from the day proof of ID and address is submitted. (So he took time to submit his ID and Address)
On the 20th Dec 2011 he moved for the interim bail to be made absolute, and initially on the same day itself the bail was granted after hearing submissions from both the Defence and the APP(Asst Public Prosecutor), who says that he cannot make any submission without detailed report from the IO. Though earlier the detailed report was sought for by the court the IO did not comply (as per records of the court order).
In the mean time on the 20th Dec 2011, the alleged accused and another friend of his threatened the grandfather of the victim and an FIR for threat was filed by the grandfather, against him and his friend and registered as Jowai PS case No 192(12) 2011 U/s 506/34 IPC. Another IO was endorsed for this other case, and the case was taken up in the same court. The IO for this case told the grandfather to try to trap Small Phawa by calling him, pretending to be the victim and to send messages. So the grandfather, from his phone, had been sending messages to try to trap the alleged accused so the police can apprehend him. Little did the grandfather know that it was all a ploy to try and help the alleged accused. These messages were used by the accused to be able to make it look like the victim was in love with him.
Next day the 21.12.2011, the IO of the rape case, prays for rejection of the anticipatory bail and the case was heard. The bail was rejected by the Court with orders for this matter to be heard again on the 5.1.2012.
On 5th Jan 2012 the ADM was on leave so the case was not heard.
On 9th Jan 2012 though, the case record was put up for the threat case being Misc Crl Case (Miscellaneous Case for Criminal) No 2 of 2012, and pre-arrest bail prayer was rejected. But interestingly the Order mentions that both the Learned Defence Lawyer and Learned APP state their submission are the same as their arguments in Misc Case No 51 of 2011 (there is no petition moved for pre-arrest bail on the 9th Jan 2012).
On 10 Jan 2012 the Jaintia Hills SP directs the OC Jowai to submit a detailed investigation report of Jowai PS case No 177(11)2011 U/s 376 IPC which should reach undersigned by 12.1.2012.
On 17th Jan 2012 four NGOs write to the ADC in support of the alleged accused in the rape case (Jowai PS case No 177(11)2011 U/s 376 IPC).
On the 18th Jan 2012 a pre-arrest bail petition is moved in this Misc Crl Case no 2 of 2012 which is for Jowai PS case No 192(12) 2011 U/s 506/34 IPC, also against the alleged accused Small Phawa. There is no copy of the Petition except what is mentioned in the order.
The second paragraph of the Order mentions that the petitioner begs to move pre-arrest bail in connection with both the above-mentioned cases since the FIR in both cases are against the same Petitioner, except for the sections. As can be seen the Order mentions only one case, that is, Misc Crl Case no 2 of 2012.
Para 3 states that this petition may be taken as part and parcel of the previous bail petition under 438 CrPc in both the Misc Crl Cases No 51 of 2011 and Misc Crl Case no 2 of 2012 and the contents and facts whatever stated in those petitions may kindly be taken into consideration.
Paragraph four states that it is pertinent to mention herein that in Misc Crl Cases No 51 of 2011, this Hon’ble Court has granted interim bail for 7 (seven) days vide order dated 9.12.2011 and there after a petition for making interim bail absolute was preferred on 20.12.2011 and vide order dated 21.12.2011. This Hon’ble Court was pleased to cancel the bail petition basing on the police report and as such the same was fixed for hearing on 5.1.2012. If interim bail was cancelled how can another be applied in same court and why hear it on the same petition?
Paragraph five mentions that unfortunately on the 5th Jan 2012 the Hon’ble Addl District Magistrate could not take up hearing due to the sickness of his family members.
Paragraph six states that while there was a pending hearing of the said Misc Crl Cases No 51 of 2011, another FIR was lodged by the same parent of the victim girl (although it was actually the grandfather who lodged the FIR) thereby implicating the petitioner. The same was also registered as Jowai PS case No 192(12) 2011 U/s 506/34 IPC.
Paragraph seven states that as per the said second FIR the petitioner was compelled to prefer another anticipatory bail petition on the 6.12.2012 and the same was registered as Misc Crl Case no 2 of 2012.
Paragraph eight states that on 9.1.2012 this Hon’ble Court was pleased to reject the Pre- arrest bail in Jowai PS case No 192(12) 2011 U/s 506/34 IPC, whereas the hearing of Jowai PS case No 177 (12)of 2011, U/s 376 IPC registered as Misc Crl Cases No 51 of 2011 has not been taken up nor any date has been fixed.
Paragraph nine to fifteen- Then whole petition of the petitioner for bail is noted down in the order para wise.
The paragraph sixteen in the order still states the petition, that your Humble Petitioner undertakes that he shall hereafter cooperate fully with the investigating agency in the investigation of the case and shall abide by all conditions set forth by the Hon’ble Court in the event if he is granted pre-arrest bail in both the cases i.e Jowai PS case No 177 (12)of 2011, U/s 376 IPC and Jowai PS case No 192(12) 2011 U/s 506/34 IPC.
Then the order mentions thus:
Further the order reads:
It is frustrating to notice the way the case was handled by the prosecutors to help the perpetrator of a rape committed on a minor victim who was below 15 years of age. The petition was not available for this date for both cases; one being a rape case and one being for threats in two different occasions.
On 25th Jan 2012 the IO of the rape case (Jowai PS case No 177 (12) of 2011) submits a one page (eleven lines) ‘detailed report’, to the Addl Dist Magistrates Jaintia Hills Jowai, mentioning that the accused person Shri Small Phawa had reported before her as per the condition of the anticipatory bail dated 18.1.2012 passed by Shri B Mawlong Addl DC, Jaintia Hills District. (Note:- the Order passed on 18.1.2012 was not signed by the ADC B Mawlong but someone else who signed for ADC and moreover the Order was not for case of this IO for the rape case but was passed for the case related to threat being Jowai PS case No 192(12) 2011 U/s 506/34 IPC for which she is not IO).
Then on the 27thJan 2012, a bail petition clubbing both cases in one, making absolute the interim order passed on 18.1.2012 was moved by the lawyers for this alleged rapist who never once was taken into custody. Strangely the order mentions Misc Crl Cases No 51 of 2011 and order was passed for extending interim bail for another 10 days till detailed report is submitted by IO.
Meanwhile on the 30.1.2012 the IO of the threat case sends a forwarding report where one of the alleged accused is arrested in the Jowai PS case No 192(12) 2011 U/s 506/34 IPC and forwarded to the Court of the Addl District Magistrate at Jowai.
Then on 8.2.2012, Misc Crl Cases No 51 of 2011 was again put up where it mentions petition filed by accused, (which according to us is not available in records). Interim bail extended for another 20 days. There was no objections raised by the APP. This accused was not yet arrested for a crime of rape against a minor and no objections from the APP. Names are also not given or mentioned of the Learned Defence nor of the APP’s presence.
Strangely though again the order mentions that the I/O is to submit a report.
On 9.2.2012 the IO of the rape case (Jowai PS case No 177 (12) of 2011) submits a one page (twenty-two lines) ‘detailed report’, to the Addl Dist Magistrate Jaintia Hills Jowai, citing reference to Jowai PS case No 177(12)11 U/s 376 IPC & Court Order Vide Memo No Judicial Misc Crl No 2/2012 (A) dated Jowai 27th Jan 2012. She mentions that MO opines that a bruise is there on the left thigh above the knee joint and there was a hymen six o’clock tear. Attempts were made to arrest him but he evades and he did not comply with earlier conditions. The IO further mentions that on 18th Jan 2012 the Hon’ble Court passed an order vide Memo No Judl Misc Crl No 51/2011 (A) dated 10th Jan 2012 in which Small Phawa was granted bail.
The accused person Shri Small Phawa had reported before me as per the condition of the anticipatory bail dated 18.1.2012 passed by Shri B Mawlong Addl DC, Jaintia Hills District.
Note that the Order passed on 18.1.2012 was not signed by the ADC B. Mawlong but someone else who signed for the ADC and moreover the Order was not for the rape case but was passed for the case related to threat being Jowai PS case No 192(12) 2011 U/s 506/34 IPC for which she is not IO) Also note that on this 18th Jan 2012 order was passed for Misc Crl No 2/2012 and the same order was used to procure bail for the rape case by just changing the Memo No. Note also the date of the order in Memo No which mentions 10th Jan when order was on 18th Jan.
On the 10th February, the superintendent of Police Jaintia Hills Jowai, wrote to the AIGP Meghalaya and mentioned that the accused person Shri Small Phawa was arrested on 20th January 2012. There was no mention that he was immediately let off on bail as he had the anticipatory bail. (Had they been serious to follow up they would have realised the fraud). Senior’s supervision was all a sham.
On the 27.2.2012 the case record is put up again and no records of the IO is available on the investigation. Further interim bail was given for another 20 days. Again a petition to regularize the interim bail. (Not Available)
On 19.3.2012, the IO submits again a detailed report to the ADM Jaintia Hills District at Jowai and she gives a report instead saying that the alleged accused has been reporting before the IO, and she never even sought his arrest on the rape case.
Then on the 21.3.2012, two days after IO submits a detailed report in support of the alleged accused, the Court hears the case and makes absolute the interim bail. Again this order was not signed by the ADM but signed on behalf of him.
On the 21.3.2012 the Court hears the case and makes absolute the interim bail.
Then on April 2012 mother of the victim prayed the Court of the ADM to cancel bail of the alleged accused in this rape case, but that was denied and the case was then transferred to the Fast Track Court where the Judge acquitted him.
Prior to his retirement early this year, the Hon’ble Meghalaya High Court Judge T.NK Singh has passed orders to issue notice to the Respondents, including Small Phawa, when the appeal was made against the acquittal of the alleged accused who has managed to evade arrest by manipulation of the Court procedure.
The mother of the minor victim girl had approached the Secretary Law Department with a petition against Judgement Order 18th Feb 20115 which was pronounced on 26th Feb 2015 wherein the Fast Track Court Judge was convinced that the prosecution fails to establish /prove the case beyond reasonable doubt entitled the accused to acquittal. The case was dismissed and accused was acquitted U/s 232 Crpc.
The grounds for acquittal was challenged by the mother and only when she approached the Secretary Meghalaya Legal Aids Authority that pressure was put on the Govt to make the Appeal.Now the case is still waiting to be heard in the Hon’ble High Court.
After the national outpouring of sorrow and anger over the gang-rape and death of a young medical student in Delhi, the Chief Justice of India has written to all high courts, asking for fast-track courts to be established to expedite the cases of crimes against women.
The Chief Justice of India, AltamasKabir, has asked high courts of all states to coordinate with state governments for the infrastructure needed to commission these special courts.
Just a few other cases
In another case a minor girl (13) was raped by one Siktor Mawnai of Village Mawripih- B on the 6th Feb 2013, as she was leaving the house of her aunt at Mawripih- B Village in the evening. In the same night the family went to file an FIR in the Sohiong Police Outpost. There has been no hearing as yet on this case, and they have not been given any compensation also. Instead when I took the parents to the secretariat to be able to talk with them and help apply for compensation the guard shouted rudely at them and when I confronted him the then ADG of Police, Tennyson Dkhar, on behest of the SAD Bureaucrat, asked the SAD Official E B Lyngdoh to file an FIR against me, and I have been charge-sheeted in the case.
On the 2nd Oct 2014 A mentally challenged minor(15) of Dingsyiar Village EKH was raped by Kas Mawkon of the village of Dingsiar, at a nearby forest near the football field as she went to fetch water. He was arrested on the 3rd of Oct 2014 and was released after three months. In the meantime the house of the sister of the victim was burnt down on the day when there was a Dorbar, about a month of the rape incident. The alleged accused of the rape, was the brother of Baling Mawkon who was also a member of the Village Dorbar and Baling is also married to the sister of the Headman Skinal Dkhar. So the Village was helping the alleged accused and the victims’ relatives were socially boycotted. Even the brothers and relatives of the victim were not allowed to attend Village Dorbar Meetings.
Till date (26.3.2016) they have not been called for the hearing as yet and no compensation has been granted to them and their dogs were always attacked with poisoned or hot water poured on them by some village people.
As per RTI from 2002 till 30.7.2013 Details of rape cases in East Khasi Hills Dist.
|Regd||Pending||Charge sheeted||FR||Conviction||Long pending investigation|
|Rape cases Regd from 2002 till 30.7.2013||305||63||203||39||6||2(from 2002)|
As per RTI from Jaintia Hills District, the number of rape cases transferred to the Fast Track Court Jowai from 2002 to 2013 are 103 and cases disposed of by Fast Track Court till August 2013 was 30 and with nil conviction and 22 of these victims of the cases that were disposed of, were minors when the rape occurred. There was no hearing in all these cases that are disposed of, as in most of them the accused was declared absconder and the Learned Judge observed that most of the cases were old cases without any steps taken. In two cases the Public Witnesses were never present. Cases were too old and disposed off as the accused were not appearing. Orders for PNA were issued and standing warrants of arrest were issued, and cases disposed off to be reopened when the accused appear.
As per RTI from West Khasi Hills Dist cases disposed of by Fast Track Court till August 2013 was 10 and conviction was 7.
Presently, in the State according to Police data updated, 22 minors raped from Jan 2016 till date, six rapes, perpetrated by minors on minors and this is a great concern to the society. About 126 minors raped from 1.1.2013 to March 2016. Many old cases of violence against women where women are raped and murdered are laying in cold storage.
So, if the citizens are serious about violence against women and girls in Meghalaya, they should go beyond the candlelight symbolism and follow up cases so that the state does not do injustice to the rape victims.