An AIPWA team led by Bihar state secretary Shashi Yadav and constituted of Delhi University professor Radhika Menon, AIPWA leaders from Samastipur, and Kiran visited Sadar Hospital, Begusarai on 12 March 2023, to meet two children who had been raped and brutalized on 8 March 2023 by a gang of four men.
The findings from the discussion with the parents and local social activists by the AIPWA team indicates a worrying pattern of violation and crimes for communal polarisation, as well as quick action by social activists that reverted further tragedy from unfolding.
As the world was celebrating International women’s day and Holi celebrations were concluding in the afternoon, a shocking brutality was plotted and inflicted on two very young children in Sahebpur Kamal block of Begusarai. Khushbu (name changed), 6 years, and Samira (name changed), 9 years, were on the swings of the government middle school playground, like every other day. A man who was identified as Chhotu by Samira, accompanied by Bablu Kumar and two others trapped them in the playground and began assaulting them. Their faces were smashed against the wall. Samira began to fight off the violators. Her head was banged harder and her cheek was ripped off till her teeth were exposed. She managed to scream and fled with her injuries. Khushbu who stammers and is very frail and tiny for her age was shocked and unable to resist. She was dragged off to the school toilet and brutalized by the men.
When the AIPWA team met them at Sadar hospital, Samira’s face and head was heavily bandaged and she was shrinking to the furthest side of the bed but talking. She was accompanied by her mother, a beedi rolling worker, and unemployed grandfather. She has 8 other siblings. Her father is a driver. On another bed lay Khushbu, expressionless and with visible injuries that were healing on her face, arms and legs. Both her eyes were bloodshot and her forehead bulged where it had been smashed. She has stopped speaking since the incident at 3 pm on March 8. She has 6 other siblings, four of whom are disabled. Her mother who is abandoned by her husband, accompanied her. She feeds her impoverished family with food received in charity from the neighbours.
Two of the above culprits named by Samira were running a tea shop and a pan shop near the school. The families of the children and the villagers knew them as lumpens who used to hang around with hoodlums and sold soft drugs. There were also reports that Bablu’s father claimed that his son was a Bajrang dal activist and a media person. Two of the other persons who Samira could not name but could identify have been absconding.
The sequence of events reported by social activists in the area indicate that after Khushbu escaped the clutches of the gang, she ran with her cheek ripped apart and informed the villagers before collapsing. When the villagers found Khushbu she was bleeding from her head and around her hips. She had possibly been presumed dead by the violators.
Angry crowds razed the hangout of the hoodlums. However, a communal flare up was averted with the intervention of social activists who formed peace committees and focused on justice for the victims. The local protests led to action by the administration. Police protection has since then been given to the family in the hospital. The district hospital administration also acted on the protests by providing treatment to the children.
Local activists also mentioned that two more incidents of violations had taken place in the village before.
However far more needs to be done. AIPWA demands that administration must,
Immediately search and arrest the two absconding rapists.
Move the case in a fast track court for ensuring justice without delay.
Ensure the safety, education of the children.
Promote positive action for dispelling the fear of schools and school buildings that have set in.
Make school spaces safe and free the surroundings from activities that threaten children.
Uncover the political protection and bureaucratic patronage being provided to the criminals for running the drug hang-out near the school.
Criminal proceedings for banning Bajrang Dal for communal propaganda that has possibly led to hate crimes even against children.
Provide Rs 25 lakhs as compensation to the families of the children, to rehabilitate them from the trauma of the crime.
Provide the best health care and post trauma counselling to the children to recover and proceed with their lives.
AIPWA affirms that the safety of a society is determined by the safety of the poorest and most vulnerable children of society. The administration must fulfill the above demands to avert future tragedies.