11-Year-Old Raped And Burnt Alive: How A Village In Assam Came Together
Nagaon/Assam: At a time there is nationwide outrage over a spate of rapes of minors, made worse with alleged politicisation of some of the cases, the aftermath of a similar horror story involving an 11-year-old in Assam could hold some lessons for all.
In Nagaon district, where the girl was raped and then set ablaze, an entire village came together to help the police catch the accused — a 21-year-old and two minor boys from the same village.
At Lalung Gaon, 150 kilometres from state capital Guwahati, the girl who was all alone at home was raped on March 23.
“We were working in the field when villagers started calling us. We came home and saw our daughter was almost completely burnt,” the girl’s mother told Press24.
The Class 5 student who sustained 90 per cent burn injuries died that night in hospital but not before naming the alleged rapist Zakir Hussain and two minors who helped mutilate her and set her alight.
“My daughter did not even know this man properly. I cannot understand why this happened to us,” her father told Press24 before he broke into tears.
In the Muslim-dominated village of poor landless peasants, Zakir’s land owning family is the richest and the most influential. Villagers allege that the family had got away with earlier instances of assault too.
“Once when my husband was away, Zakir’s father broke into our house and tried to molest me. I managed to free myself and approached the police but they did not help,” alleged a woman in the village.
After the 11-year-old died, villagers handed over the two minors to the police. They ransacked Zakir’s house but he had fled by then. A day later, villagers informed the police that the accused was hiding in another village, about 40 kilometres away. Zakir was arrested within 72 hours of the girl’s death.
“For us it was not a question of religion, even if the girl was Hindu and the accused a Muslim or vice-versa, we would have stood against rape. A criminal has no religion and he has to be punished,” said Musabbir Alam, a villager.
As the entire village stood united for justice, it made the job of the police a lot easier.
“We knew this is a very serious crime so we formed a special probe team, nabbed everyone and very soon we file the charge sheet, Nagaon Superintendent of Police (SP) Shankar Rai Medhi told Press24.
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