Cops put 10-year-old Dalit 'rape victim' behind bars, upper caste villagers 'terrorise' family

Life, for them, had never been easy. The couple and their family of 16 live in a two-room tenement and the father, who works at a local grocery store for a daily wage of Rs 200, is the only earning member.

Theirs is also one of four Jatav Dalit families in a majority Lodhe Rajput village just outside Bulandshahr city, and have been under pressure for long. But over the last few days, things have turned downright ugly, they said.

The couple's 10-year-old daughter, their ninth child, was allegedly raped by a 35-year-old Rajput man on Sunday. And when the girl and her mother went to the police station in Bulandshahr to complain, the girl was made to spend the night in the lock-up.

Now, the majority Rajputs of the village are pressuring the family to withdraw the case and leave the village of 150 houses even as the police said medical examination of the girl has not established rape or injury.

But the Jatav family is adamant. It is neither willing to withdraw the case nor leave the village because it is home despite everything. They hope the law will come to their rescue.

"The Rajputs say they are men. They say they get tempted when they see a girl of my daughter's age. They are blaming us saying why did we let her go out alone," the girl's mother told The Indian Express Wednesday.

"They have been threatening to kill us, burn down our ancestral home and stone my daughter to death if we do not withdraw the rape case. Even the village panchayat, including the sarpanch, is in favour of the accused and is asking the family to settle the matter," she alleged.

"We are so scared that we cannot go out of our house. A day after the incident, all the Rajputs came and encircled our house. They told me to settle a price for my daughter and keep quiet about the case or else they would stone her to death," the mother alleged. "I picked up my daughter in an unconscious state from the road. She was traumatized and was shivering. How can they expect me to withdraw the case?"

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