The following letter was submitted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the 11th of October 2013, demanding action in the incidents of looting, arson, and violence, on 9-10th October 2007 on the Pardhi community in Multai, in Betul, Madhya Pradesh. The letter demands that necessary steps on the statements of the ten affected Pardhi women who were gang raped be taken and rape charges be filed against the accused persons so that trials for the same can take place in the court of law; and that the CBI take cognizance of offence against the officers of the administration and police, as well as against the concerned politicians, of abetment, conspiracy, omission of duty and active participation, and for further investigation thereafter.
Central Bureau of Investigation
Re: Case no. RC00082009S0016 and Case no. RC00082009S0017; not filing charges of gang rape despite recording statements, not filing cases against officials in the case of arson and looting.
We are writing to you on behalf of PUDR and WSS, having conducted a fact finding on the incidents of looting, arson, and violence, on 9-10th October 2007 on the Pardhi community in Multai, in Betul, Madhya Pradesh. We are submitting to you a copy of this fact-finding report.
We wish to bring to your attention the following issues regarding the CBI investigation and the filing of charges in the above-mentioned cases.
1. The Non reporting and filing charges on the reported gang rapes
After taking charge of the investigation, Case no. RC00082009S0016 was registered by CBI in the matter of loot, arson and demolition of the Pardhi Dhana and Case no. RC00082009S0017 was registered by CBI in the matter of murder of Bondru Pardhi and his wife Dodel Bai. However, no report has been filed by the CBI in the matter of gang rape of ten Pardhi women on the evening of 10-09-2007, prior to the incident of loot, arson and murder, despite the statement of the affected women being recorded twice both orally and on video as well.
No cognizance has been taken of the report of the National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic & Semi-nomadic Tribes (Renke Commission), which was the first government agency to have learnt of the gang rape. But no effort has been made to seek statements and bring evidence and witness on record from the commission. The Final Report in Bondru Murder Case shows that one Witness, SDO Police Kamal Murya has said of the rape incident being earlier investigated and report submitted to the then S.P. of Betul District.
Application for further investigation in the matter of gang rape was made, on the grounds that statements of victims were recorded by the CBI twice orally and on video as well. The CBI opposed this application even though it admitted that during investigation in the matter of arson and loot, the issue of rape was raised by the concerned women, who also named the persons by whom they were raped. CBI investigated the matter and recorded statements of victims and others as well. But then it took the alibi that without specific consent U/s 6 of DSPE Act 1946, CBI has no power to investigate the offence of S. 376 IPC. It also said that the Trial Court has no power to direct it to investigate. It also took the lame excuse that the CBI had no report of the National Denotified Tribes Commission.
If people have been named and testimonies have been recorded, then why are charges not being filed?
We demand that the CBI take cognizance of these cases and files charges of rape against the accused.
2. Charges against public servants and politicians in the case of arson and looting
On 30th March 2012, Final Report was submitted by CBI, before the Special Magistrate and JMFC at Jabalpur, District Court Jabalpur, in the matter of loot, arson and demolition of the Pardhi Dhana and the case is pending for trial in Sessions Trial No. 617 / 2012, (CBI-Bhopal versus Heera Lal Lokhande, Raja Pawar and others).
In the above matter an application was moved under S. 190 / 173(8) / 156 (3) Cr.P.C. for taking cognizance of offence against (i) the officers of the administration and police, as well as against the concerned politicians for abetment, conspiracy, omission of duty and for active participation; (ii) for cognizance of offence of rape and murder of Dodel Bai Pardhi and the murder of her husband Bondru Pardhi against the politicians and the Police officers; and (iii) for investigation in the matter of gang rape of ten Pardhi women. The said application was rejected on 11-02-2013 and the matter was sent for committal to the Special Sessions Court CBI, Jabalpur.
The matter of Loot, Arson and Demolition is currently pending (Sessions Trial Number 617 / 2012, CBI Vs. Heeralal Lokhande and 89 Ors) before the Special CBI Court, 1st Additional Sessions Judge, Jabalpur. Charges have been framed against all accused on variable counts. The case is fixed for evidence.
In the above matter an application was moved under S. 193 / 173(8) Cr.P.C. for taking cognizance of offence against the officers of the administration and police as well as against the Politicians for abetment, conspiracy, omission of duty and for active participation as well and for further investigation thereafter.
The CBI opposed this application and in its reply said that lapses were found on the part of the administration and the police, and therefore a Report was sent to the concerned departments for initiating departmental action against them. The CBI did not want to investigate and seek permission to prosecute the officers. In this regard, it would be proper to note that an E-mail was earlier sent to the Director CBI by one of the Prime Witness Mr. Rishu Naidu, a Journalist of ETV Betul on 09-04-2011, when he came to know that his statement implicating the officers and the politicians had been deleted. Despite, such complaint, the charge-sheet was filed without making enquiry from the Investigation Officer.
We demand that the CBI take cognizance of offence against the officers of the administration and police, as well as against the concerned politicians, of abetment, conspiracy, omission of duty and active participation, and for further investigation thereafter.
3. The Case Of Murder of Bondru and Dodel Bai
Final Report was also submitted in the Case no. RC00082009S0017 before the Special Magistrate, CBI at Jabalpur in the matter of murder of Bondru Pardhi and his wife Dodel Bai and the case was renumbered as Case No. 3302 / 2012, (CBI, Bhopal versus Heeralal Lokhande and Ors). The matter was committed to the court of Special Sessions Judge, CBI, Jabalpur, where it is currently pending as Sessions Trial No. 486 / 2012, (CBI Vs. Namdeo Dhakad and Ors) and the Witness Examination is going on. Most of the CBI witnesses have turned hostile.
In the above matter, an application under S. 173(8) was moved before the Special Sessions Judge (CBI) to seek cognizance of offence against the Politicians and police officer involved in murder of Bondru Pardhi and his wife Dodel Pardhi on 11-09-2007 and to seek further investigation in the matter in view of the statements of the prime witness, the son, daughter and members of the Pardhi community who were eye witness to the murder and whose statements has not been brought on record in the final report by the CBI.
The CBI opposed the Application by stating that although the Pardhi Eyewitness were examined, crime scene was reconstructed with their help and the locations of relative eyewitness were assessed yet it came to conclusions that:
a) there were major contradictions in the material particulars in the account given by the eyewitnesses;
b) their versions were not supported with any circumstantial evidence and were not trustworthy;
c) their present statement is afterthought and well varnished and half-truth and half false;
d) they implicated facts to create a false story;
e) the Pardhi were having enmity with some of the persons named in their statements;
f) they were found motive witnesses; hence they were not reliable witnesses.
The court, after perusing the contentions, made an order to attach the Statements of the Pardhi Eyewitness, as found in the Diary of the Investigation to the Final Report.
On 10.10.2013 the application u/s 311 Cr.P.C., filed by Pardhi complainant was allowed, and the four Pardhi witnesses have been directed to be summoned for recording their evidence as court witnesses.
All these issues and concerns have already been brought to your attention through oral communications, applications and also through petitions in court by the victims themselves and also through concerned activists.
It is a matter of great concern that incidents of sexual violence against women, especially on those from the marginalized communities are not being taken seriously and have been deliberately ignored by a state institution meant to facilitate justice.
We re-iterate our demand that you take necessary steps on the statements of the affected women and file rape charges against the accused persons so that trials for the same can take place in the court of law.
We also urge you to act on behalf of the victims. All the affected people from this marginalized community had placed their trust in your institution and made an appeal that the CBI should be given charge of this case, as they felt that political pressure would not allow for fair investigation. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the CBI to ensure that very strong cases are made against the accused and all the culprits are bought to book.
We re-iterate the demand that the CBI take cognizance of offence against the officers of the administration and police, as well as against the concerned politicians, of abetment, conspiracy, omission of duty and active participation, and for further investigation thereafter.
It is unfortunate that the victims have to seek to go to court against the CBI and it is to be noted that the court too has ruled in favour of the victims directing the CBI to include stronger witnesses in the Dodel Bai Bhondru murder case. This brings to light the fact that there are technical flaws in the way the charge sheets have been made. Moreover, not filing the rape charges is a grave omission by the CBI. We demand that this be rectified and the CBI works towards getting justice for the victims.
Indira C, Nandini R, Rinchin