18 years on, Dalit woman paraded naked awaits justice

Initial outpouring of rage and offers of help forgotten, case drags on

A Dalit woman, who was allegedly paraded naked in Dauna village under Ghoorpur area of Allahabad on January 21, 1994, on a trivial issue, is still awaiting justice.

The case is an example of how a tardy legal system leaves the victim helpless, even as the spotlight shifts away from the case after initial outpouring of outrage.

Immediately after the incident, the then top leaders in the state, including Mulayam Singh Yadav, who was then the Chief Minister, and Bahujan Samaj Party's founder Kanshi Ram, had visited the village. They promised that the perpetrators would be dealt with firmly. A job for the victim's son and some monetary help was also offered. Several NGOs and other organisations also reached the village and promised all possible help to the victim. Meanwhile, the case drags on.

"The prosecution evidence has been recorded. The accused will now get a chance to produce evidence and witnesses. Subsequently, the matter will reach the stage of final arguments," said an assistant prosecution officer.

There were in all 22 accused, three of whom have died. The rest are out on bail. Also, there are 10 witnesses, eight of them from the victim's family. One investigation officer expired during the trial. Recording of the statements of the victim and her husband itself took two years.

The case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including rioting, outraging the modesty of a woman, criminal intimidation and criminal conspiracy, was registered on January 21, 1994. The accused were also booked under various sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The chargesheet was filed on February 7, 1994. The case was transferred to the Additional Sessions Judge on June 24, 1994. On October 10, 2007, it was sent to a Fast Track Court. However, a decision could not be reached and it was brought back to the court of Special Judge (SC/ST Act) in May, 2011, where it is currently pending.

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