Pune: “Me and my wife were harrassed for three years. Every week we had to go to the court - even when my wife was eight months pregnant - for interim relief hearing. Despite all this, I am not against the Atrocity Act but its misuse is not acceptable,” said Rakesh Mittal (36), once a victim of the Act and wrongly framed by his neighbour over a small issue related to encroachment.
Mittal and his wife Siddhi were the first people in Pune to be acquitted in an Atrocity Act case by the District Court.
In contrast, the cases of a 19-year-old tribal girl in Wardha (rape and murder) and Sagar Jadhav (handicapped because of beating), that are cases of grevious crimes by people of so called ‘upper caste’, are yet to get justice.
Encroachment in society
Mittal said, on September 13, 2013, his neighbour filed a police complaint which Mittal assumed was about the confrontation they had over an encroachment at the previous residence.
“But within 24 hours I came to know that I was booked under SC/ST Act,” Mittal said.
The neighbour had affixed a safety door, encroaching the area outside his house. Mittal’s shoe rack outside the door did not go down well with the neighbour. A spat ensued.
“We were booked under Atrocity Act as our neighbour levelled charges that we wanted to buy his flat, so we are throwing garbage inside his house and I have abused him,” added Mittal.
Siddhi said their lawyer and friends helped them fight the case in which they were acquitted after three years. Both parties have approached the High Court.
Rape and Murder
In March, a 19-year-old tribal girl in Wardha district was raped and killed by unidentified youths. Her family is running from pillar to post to get justice.
The girl went to a friend’s place in Dehugaon village of Selu taluka in Wardha to attend a function on March 19 but did not return home. Her half naked body was found mutilated in two pieces at a railway track.
Lalsu Soma Nagoti, a tribal activist, said, “The girl’s family registered a a missing complaint when she didn’t return. Later that night, the police informed them that her body was found at the railway track. The police only brought the upper part of the body. The girl’s father went there and brought the remaining body parts.”
A family member said, “The police are not investigating the case properly. They have written in the case register that her clothes got removed as she was hit by the train.”
A protest march was carried out in Wardha on Tuesday in wake of this crime.
The case of Sagar Jadhav, a resident of Bhigwan village in Indapur taluka of Pune tells a tale of atrocity. As reported by Sakal Times earlier, Jadhav filed a complaint against some upper caste youth for molesting his friend’s wife but came under a murderous attack by by 17-18 boys, which left him wheelchair-bound for life. He has not yet received any compensation as promised by government authorities.
Mittals were dragged to court by their neighbour over a small matter regarding safety door and shoe rack encroaching on each other’s space. Siddhi Mittal said, “My husband suffered a heart attack after he came to know that I have also been booked. We were told by many that we are going to jail, but we hadn’t done anything wrong and took a stand to fight the case.”
A 19-year-old tribal girl was raped and murdered by unidentified youths in Wardha. “Ironically, a day later after the girl’s funeral, her family went to police to enquire about her death and were told if they had given good ‘sanskaar’ to their daughter, she wouldn’t have died,” said Lalsu Soma Nagoti, a tribal activist based in Gadchiroli.