While the nation continues to reel under the horrors of the Kathua and Unnao rapes and certain groups continue to politicise these crimes, a small village in Assam has come forth to be a beacon of justice.
After the horrific gangrape and murder of an 11-year-old minor shook the village of Lalung Gaon in the Nagaon district, these villagers joined hands to catch the accused and handed them over to the police.
On March 23, when the minor was alone at home, three boys barged into her home and raped her, reported NDTV. If that wasn’t all, the trio set the girl ablaze after committing the heinous crime.
The girl’s parents who were busy toiling in the fields were summoned by the villagers to rush home. “We were working in the field when villagers started calling us. We came home and saw our daughter was almost burnt,” the girl’s mother told NDTV.
The 11-year-old who was a Class 5 student was admitted to the hospital and succumbed to 90 percent burn injuries later that night. But before she breathed her last, she named her rapists who included 21-year-old Zakir Hussain and two minors, who she said, set her alight in an attempt to disfigure her completely.
Grieving the death of his daughter, the father of the victim broke into tears saying, “My daughter did not even know this man properly. I cannot understand why this happened to us.”
Lalung Gaon is a predominantly Muslim village where most villagers are underprivileged labourers. One of the accused in the case, 21-year-old Zahir, comes from an influential land-owning family in this village of poverty-stricken agricultural workers.
After the case came to light, the villagers came forward and alleged that this certainly wasn’t the first time someone from the family had attempted sexual assault and got away with it.
One of the women accused Zakir’s father of attempted sexual assault saying, “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 me.”
The death of the minor was grieved by the entire village. But they did not stop at terming it an unfortunate event. They got together and handed over the two minors to the police.
They collectively barged into Zakir’s home later and ransacked it in an attempt to find him, only to realise he had fled.
But their search did not stop. Within 24-hours, the villagers traced his location, some 40 kilometres away in another village and informed the police. Less than 72 hours after the victim passed, Zakir was taken into police custody, thanks to the villagers.
The undying spirit of the villagers to grant justice to their daughter reflects on how none of them tried to politicise it. “A criminal has no religion and, he has to be punished,” Musabbir Alam, a villager told NDTV.
Nagaon Superintendent of Police (SP), Shankar Rai Medhi expressed how the police had formed a special probe team after capturing the accused and will soon file the charge sheet for the case.
This Assam village proves that if citizens unite to fight for justice, they can overcome every hurdle. We hope this story inspires people across India to not remain mere spectators to societal injustice but fight in the face of it.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)
Feature in-set image: NDTV