April 17, 2016

Justice for Delta Meghwal

A meeting was organised on April 2 in Jaipur to condemn the rape and murder of Delta Meghwal, a 17-year-old Dalit student in Rajasthan. On March 29, the body of Meghwal was found in the water tank of Jain Adarsh Teacher Training Institute for Girls in Nokha, Bikaner where she was studying. Police took her body to hospital in a civic garbage carrying vehicle without video-graphing the whole process. According to the FIR filed by her parents, there were only four girls in the hostel at the time of the incident as all the other had gone home. Around 8 PM on March 28, she had called her father and told him that their warden Priya Shukla had sent her to PT Instructor Vijendra Singh's room to clean it when she was raped. The institute, in an attempt to cover up the incident, took written apology from both Meghawal and the teacher with a statement that this happened with mutual consent. The usual strategy of blaming the victim was used in the most brutal manner against a 17-year-old girl. However, mainstream English newspapers have not yet covered the issue. Several glaring questions remain unanswered. Why did the college administration not take action and file a police case against the accused teacher since the girl is a minor? Why were the parents not informed? Why did the college force a letter that the abuse was a consensual relationship? Why did the police use a garbage tractor to take the body to hospital? Why was due process not followed? Why was a minor Dalit girl sent to the room of a male PT teacher and forced to clean the hostel? Meghawal, hailing from a village in Barmer district, was a brilliant student and an amazing painter, having topped in a state-level painting competition when she was in 12th standard. One of her artworks featured in an art magazine published by Rajasthan secretariat in 2006 when she was just seven years old. The meeting demanded immediate arrest of the accused teacher, the principal and the warden and suspension of policemen who removed the body in a garbage-carrying tractor without video-graphing it. It was also demanded that an independent inquiry be ordered, recognition of the college be withdrawn and compensation of Rs 50 lakh be given to her family.