Updated: June 26, 2021 11:22 pm
A tribal woman in Gujarat is fearing for her life and pleading for help from the police in a family dispute where in the accused reportedly assaulted her physically and sexually.
Vinita, 43, has registered a FIR with Chichod police in Chhota Udepur claiming that her 21-year-old son Ajay had a love marriage with Payal (name changed),19. The registered marriage was not acceptable to Payal’s family. Vinita told Vibes of India (VoI) that her son got married earlier this month on June 12. Payal also is a tribal from Palsanda village near Surat, Vinita added.
According to Vinita, four days after the marriage, Payal’s family barged into their make shift hut. “There were 11 people led by Payal’s father Rajubhai Palsanda. The others in the group included Raju Rathod, Vipul Rathod, Kadu Rathod, Masha Rathod, Nitu Rathod, Bharu Rathod, Tersinh Rathod, Vikesh Rathod, Dilip and Rahul.
“‘My daughter-in-law’s immediate family and extended family members barged into my home. My husband was away. They constantly asked where Payal was. Payal and Ajay have not visited home after marriage and I had no idea about the marriage too”, claimed Vinita who is a marginalised farm labourer.
Vinita’s daughter who was visiting her told VoI, “my mother tried to flee but they grabbed her by the hair and beat her up. All the 11 men had wooden batons and kept thrashing my mother for nearly 30 minutes.”
According to the daughter, her mother pleaded for water. VoI also contacted Vinita who confirmed that she begged for a few sips of water and the men urinated and forced her to drink their urine.
Vinita who has also sustained a fracture said her daughter-in-law’s father and few others got on to her, sexually molested her and forced her to perform oral sex on many of them.
By the time the police reached the scene, the men had fled. Vinita was admitted in a hospital in Tejgarh. She was discharged today. Fearing her life, she has moved to an unknown place for safety reasons. However, her daughter confirmed that they were all receiving death threats. Meanwhile, Payal and Ajay continue to abscond fearing family wrath and revenge.
After being discharged from the hospital today evening, the entire family went to the local police to give extra details of the horrific incident.
SP Chhota Udepur, Dharmendra Sharma, said that the victim in this case–a woman and the accused–both belong to the same community. “The woman had complained to Chhota Udepur police station about three days back and gave her version of events.The victim’s son and the main accused’s daughter are both adults and have had a registered marriage, which is legal. “We have registered the case and are investigating it. There is no question of condoning such heinous crimes,” Sharma.
Dharmendra Sharma further added they have registered a complaint under Section 143 (unlawful assembly), 147 (rioting), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 325 (causing grievous hurt), 504 (intentional insult and provocation) and 506(2) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Barkattullah Khatri of Bodeli Live news who contributed to this story and conducted a video interview of Vinita for VoI said, “The Adivasi woman’s family approached me to help them. She was on a hospital bed; shivering and scared; when I interacted with her. She was bruised and could barely talk. Most cases in the Adivasi community are resolved by the Khap panchayat and sarpanch. But considering the seriousness and gravity of the case, a police complaint has been filed.”
This is the price of love and everyday reality in the villages of Gujarat. Buchiben Vasava, a 38-year-old woman was similarly assaulted in 2018 when her son Kalpesh had eloped with a girl.
In May 2020, a 16-year-old minor tribal girl from Chhota Udepur was thrashed by three men in front of her father –for eloping with a boy.
Dalit activist and Vadgam MLA Jignesh Mewani told VoI that Gujarat is a hell-on-earth for Dalits and Adivasis. In 2019, the Gujarat government revealed a 32% rise in crimes against Scheduled Castes between 2013 and 2017, and a 55% rise in crimes against Scheduled Tribes for the same period. “And the numbers are increasing even as you read this”, he said.