Rohini Singh is still waiting for justice to be done after being brutally physically abused by the police constable Subhas Mishra, who entered and ransacked her home and also misbehaved with her two minor daughters, all because she was asking for protection against the harassment and domestic violence she was being subjected to by her husband.
"Even after the Director General of Police (DGP) saheb has intervened I am still being threatened and pressurised to take back my case against the constable. My husband who is in jail has sent a message through my son who went to meet there that they are asking him to sign a affidavit in jail saying that the injury on my leg is an old wound inflicted by him and not Constable Subash Mishra. I fear for the life and protection of both my children and myself and don't know who to approach for support now. There has been a First Information Report (FIR) lodged in my name against the offenders but till date I have not been given the copy of the FIR despite my asking for it several times. It is my right to know what sections have been put and what statement has been recorded in my name. I am also in need of financial relief to support my children and I request the government to help me get it through the courts, " says Rohini breaking down.
But she was not alone who spoke to the media fraternity press at Panel Discussion on "The Rohini Episode-Lessons for Police and Society" organised by UNICEF and Media Nest in collaboration with Saaksham Foundation, a organisation working to address violations of Child, women and Human Rights. The discussion was organised at the UP Press Club.
Dr Richa Rastogi, also spoke about the police harassment she was being subjected to owing to dowry harassment by her husband who along with the police has been tormenting her since 2007. "Every time I went to the police they refused to help me I even approached the women's commission but nothing was done."
"Repeated attempt were made on my life by feeding me poison in my food and pushing me in front of the truck yet when I went to the police for help they harassed me instead. When I got married my parents spend over 25 lakhs on my wedding but even that is not enough, they are still demanding money and my life is in danger. But wherever I have approached for help even the DGP office I have received no support as my husband's uncle who is under secretary in the UP government calls up the 'thanas' and officials I approach and pulls rank."
Professor (Dr) Roop Rekhs Verma, former Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University and a noted social activist who has been spearheading Rohini's case through 'Saajhi Duniya' an organisation addressing women's rights, said,"Rohini's is not the first case in which we are seeing such indifference of the police. In every case that we take up it's the same story. It is a shame that living in a democracy we still have to face such atrocities and human rights violations at the hands of the law enforcers. But if we want to approach the judiciary its the same story, long drawn dates and cumbersome paperwork makes it almost impossible to get justice immediately for the victims."
She also questioned the attitude of the police while filing an FIR in such cases,"It's our right to get a copy of the FIR we file but in Rohini's case we have still not received the copy of the second FIR. We don't even know what has been stated in the FIR and what sections have been put. On the other hand we had also asked the police to investigate who filed the first FIR in which the accused were shown as unknown persons, as Rohini has never said the offenders were unknown. In fact her signatures were forged on the FIR which is a crime itself. But the police has still not furnished that information to us."
Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee (2002) and President, People's Union for Human Rights (PUHR), said, "This is a systematic problem. Corruption is rife in the police department and the fact that they can be pressurised to work under influence is common. The male dominated patriarchal society we live in also sets the stage for the weak, dalits and minorities rights to be violated. Its a colonial mindset the British have left behind and cannot be rectified. But what can be changed is the attitude of the police, the 'policia bhasha' that they use with expletives can be discouraged and their attitude made more humane. Every victim that goes to a thana today is subjected to abusive language and brutal torture, this should be condoned at all. We don't need a executive council or any legal initiative to change this. The top level cops should bring about this change and if they don't they should not be excused for it. The world is changing today when human rights is a huge issue internationally but in UP we refuse to address it."
G ShreeDevi, Secretary UP State Legal Services Authority (UPSLSA), who was also among the panelist, made people aware on what their legal rights are in case of such violations. She also offered to take up the case of Rohini Singh and help her get the financial aid for judicial intervention. "The problem is that people are not aware of their legal rights. In Rohini's case she should have filed her case under Domestic Violence act. This would have helped her get judicial custody of her children and also the financial relief she wants. The UP State Legal Services Authority wants NGOs to collaborate with us so that we can inform people about the provisions we have made to help them get justice in such issues."
Anjali Singh, Director Saaksham Foundation, said, "In every case of child rights, women rights and human rights the first violations occur at the police level who refuse to go by the system put in place to help these victims. Thus there is a urgent need to develop a pressure group to stand by these victims to help them get justice immediately and bring the offenders even if they are in the police to book. Its a shame that in a survey done by National Human Rights Commission in 2008 out of 94,559 cases of human rights violations from all over India, UP Police was heading the list of offenders with 55216 cases filed against them. It is shameful."
Augustine Veliath, Communication Specialist, UNICEF Lucknow, said,"From our end UNICEF is ready to develop NGO networking list which can be provided to UPSLSA to help educate as many people as possible about their legal rights to protect them selves against human rights violations."
The vote of thanks was given by Subir Roy, Senior Photo Journalist and member Media Nest, he said,"Media Nest's aim is to help people address such issues so that they can seek justice in the cases which are not being addressed fitfully. That's why we have set up this forum and raise such issues every fortnight through Media for Children's Hour."