Shillong: ‘Is not India a part of India? Then why are the cases of rape in Tripura not reported in national media? Next time don’t give us lessons on nationalism’. These were the angry words of Pradyut Deb Barman of the royal family of Tripura in a video on social media.
Last month witnessed three major rape cases in Tripura, but it did not get attention of Indian mainstream media that was busy in helping Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s family get ‘justice’ but did not bother for victims from North East.
However, Pradyut is not the only person to express annoyance on social media. The question that why the national media would shy away from reporting the three recent rape cases in Tripura in particular and the region in general has been raised in several posts seeking justice for the victims. Among the rape survivors, two are minors.
The three rapes, including two gang rapes, were reported from Khowai district in less than a month. The latest on July 21 was the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl. A senior police officer in the district said 10 persons have been arrested in connection with the case. Four have been sent to judicial custody. A report in Tripurainfoway quoted DIG Soumitra Dhar as saying even those who helped the rapists abscond were held and that there were no loopholes in the investigation.
Sources said the girl went to Chakmaghat to meet her friend Rupesh Sarkar. “Her aunt stays in the locality so she knows people there and vice versa. That day, she went out with this boy for shopping and after some time left the girl alone. Two cars without number plates came thereafter and the girl got into one,” said a local.
One of the rapists was reportedly known to the girl. The men in the car told her that they would drop her home but instead drove towards a forest in Teliamura in the district. They stopped the car in a place called Khasiamahal and gang raped her in the car. Later, she was thrown in front of a bank in Teliamura. The girl called up her boyfriend for help and “within a minute, he reached the place”, the source said, adding, “Though he was on a two-wheeler with a friend but how can he reach so fast? He has also been picked up by police.”
A video uploaded on Facebook showed the girl naming the rapists as Gonna Miah, Jahed Miah, Lashim Miah, Chhutumona Miah. According to her, she was taken to Tuidu school and raped. She also alleged that Jahed’s wife came to her house and threatened her with consequences if she did not withdraw the case. “I told her that what he and others did to me, I would not withdraw the case. I want them to spend the rest of their lives in jail,” the girl, who is from Panbari, said in the video.
In another incident, which happened a few days before the gang rape but was reported much later, a seven-year-old girl was raped by a youth named Dhananjay Debbarma when she went out in the morning to relieve herself. Police said the man was held.
The third incident happened on July 18 in Champahour in the district. A 30-year-old woman was gang raped and two rapists have been arrested.
As the investigation proceeds, the cry for justice on social media becomes louder. Prominent figures like Pradyut Debburman and stand-up comedian Abhijeet Mishra have become vocal for justice and constantly reminded the mainland that the North East matters.