January 1, 2013
Six years back, he became a rape accused while serving as a Special Police Officer — a crucial component of Chhattisgarh State’s semi-legal operations against the Maoists. Today, he continues to be a rape accused but has moved on to become a constable in the regular police force.
Sipping a glass of water in Polampalli police station, about 15 kilometres north of Shamsetti village in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, Kiche Nanda, told The Hindu that he had been framed — by social activist Himanshu Kumar. “The allegations were concocted by Kumar who paid the women to file the complaint,” he said.
The case against Nanda is that he was among 12 men who beat up and raped four women of Shamsetti in July 2006. Nanda now believes that the survivors of Shamsetti would soon withdraw their allegation. “They [the women] informed us that they had made a mistake as the miscreants were tall men and we Murias are short,” said Nanda, who is five foot nine inches, sports a chiselled moustache and a .9 mm pistol.
Though a warrant of arrest was issued by the court in the serial rape and other similar suits concurrently, Nanda and 11 other accused of Shamsetti case remain free. Some of the accused were even declared absconders a few years back. Nanda and other accused appeared in court earlier this year and took bail, more than half a decade after the serial rape.
Another accused, Kwasi Mangalram, a peon in the Dornapal’s government school, told The Hindu on phone that no one ‘opposed’ their bail. “No one from the women’s side appeared in court,” he said. Denying the allegation, Mangalram insisted that he never had “any filthy feeling about any women” in the village.
SPO-turned-constable, Sodi Bhima, whose name also featured in the women’s petition, said that the accused are all ‘living normally and a few are in government jobs.’ While none of the accused denied the incident, they blamed left-wing political parties — mainstream and underground — for the rapes.
Meanwhile, Himanshu Kumar denied that the cases are “concocted” and said he never knew the accused before the women came for legal assistance. “We never paid anyone. Instead we offered legal assistance as per the law,” he said. Mr. Kumar added that the women and other villagers were repeatedly threatened and discouraged from pursuing their cases. “Isn’t this extraordinary that for seeking justice, people are threatened while the government pampers the perpetrators on its pay roll,” asks Mr. Kumar.
Regarding the allegation that the police shielded the accused, Viswa Ranjan, Chhattisgarh’s erstwhile police chief at the time when the women moved the court, said he has to find out the status of the lawsuits before giving an explanation. “It is not possible to remember all the cases long after retirement,” he said.
Back in Shamsetti, when asked about their expectations from the judiciary, Mr. Sori, whose wife was one of the women raped, whispered: “Let justice be in Delhi, let us live quietly in peace.”