BHUBANESWAR: Seven years after an alleged gang-rape victim died in police custody, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, Budhini Hansdah.
A full bench of NHRC headed by chairman K G Balakrishnan heard the case in a camp sitting organised at Bhubaneswar recently.
Human rights activist Prabir Das, who lodged a complaint with NHRC, said the 35-year-old tribal woman was raped by raped by two men at Kusumaghati village in Mayubhanj district on September 1, 2004.
Police had arrested the accused following a complaint by Budhini. She was also kept in the police station because she was supposed to be sent for medical examination to Baripada, about 30 km from the spot of occurrence. But her body was found one km away from the police station, the complaint said. “Since the death was unnatural and had taken place in suspicious circumstances, I pleaded for a high level enquiry and decided to bring it to the notice of NHRC. Moreover, the two minor daughters of Hansdah also accompanied her to the police station,” said Das.
Responding to an NHRC notice, state police had reported that the victim did not die in custody. “She was a victim and not an accused. She might have committed suicide due to shock. She did not get much empathy from the villagers. The woman home guard and sentry on duty said that the two accused, who raped her, were also in custody and were seen talking to her. They may have emotionally blackmailed Budhini not to go ahead with the case and she may have committed suicide due to pressure,” the police had said in its report to the rights body.
However, the commission was not happy with the state government’s explanation. It said, “The victim was in the care and custody of the state and it was the duty of the state protect her life. She was able to commit suicide as proper vigilance was not kept by the woman homeguard posted to escort her. As per the report, the accused were able to talk to the victim in custody also shows negligence in part of the personnel in the police station. The human rights of the victim was violated.” NHRC directed the state government to pay the compensation with six weeks.
“The case was unique because the deceased was not an accused but a victim and was in protective custody of police,” Das added.Courtesy:TheTimesofindia.