On 29th March, we got a call from an NGO in Nashik. A woman named Saru had contacted them.   Saru shared that her sister Veena and Veena’s two daughters were being molested by a man in a village in Vadji, Aurangabad, Maharashtra. After sharing details with the police, a rescue was planned and on  31 March at  9:30 pm,  the police and our team rescued 35 year old Veena,  11 year old Neelu and 15 year old Jeeva from the man’s house in Vadji, Aurangabad.

15 year old Jeeva shared her story.  Jeeva lived with her parents and three siblings in Nashik. Three years ago, her parents borrowed one lakh twenty thousand from a man named Malik. The parents and Jeeva worked twice as hard to pay him back. Jeeva’s father and two brothers got a job in another city and after one year were able to pay Malik back. The next year, Veena took a loan of Rs 70,000 from Malik. Though Veena claimed that she paid it back within a year, Malik harassed the family stating the loan still needed to be cleared. Malik started physcially and sexually abusing Veena.   Last year when Jeeva was alone,  Malik’s 18 year old son raped  her  He then raped her again after a few weeks. A few weeks after the second rape,  Jeeva discovered she was pregnant. She told Malik and his wife.  The couple tried to force various remedies down her throat hoping she would miscarry. When that did not work, they took her to a hospital and forced her to have an abortion.  Jeeva shared that she fell violently ill after that and was diagnosed with diabetes.

Every night Malik would return home drunk and harass Veena and her two daughters. Malik’s wife never intervened but seemed to get some sadistic pleasure watching her husband physically, sexually and emotionaly abuse the young women. 

On 15 March Malik brought Jeeva, her mother and sister to Vadji, a village approximately 360 kilometers from Pune where he continued to abuse Jeeva and her mother.  Malik took their phones from them and threatened to kill them if they told anyone about their situation.

Malik and his wife once again brought up the debt and this time said they would use Veena’s younger daughter Neelu to clear the debt. Fearing for Neelu, Veena summoned the courage to go to a neighbor’s house and call her sister Saru. She shared her story with her sister and begged her to rescue her and her daughters.

Saru wasted no time and contacted an NGO who contacted us.

After verifying all the details we were in Aurangabad on 31 March and had an appointment to speak to the Superintendent of Police of Aurangabad. After listening to our case he directed us to the Anti Human Trafficking Unit, AHTU,  who immediately starting planning the rescue. After making some enquiries, the AHTU were able to locate exactly where Veena and her daughters were being held. At 9:30 pm, mother and her two daughters were rescued and Malik, who was at home, eating dinner, was arrested. His son was not at home and returned home after a couple of hours after which his father, mother and he were arrested by the police. The three victims, three accused and our team went to the police station. 

Stating that this case was out of their jurisdiction, the police inspector we met sent us to another police station.

At the police station, the victims were kept up till 4 am as the police registered a First Information Report (FIR that is registered irrespective of the area where the offense is committed) and told us they would be transferring the case to another police station. The victims spent the night in the police station with our advocate. 

The next morning at 9 am when we reached the police station where the case had been transferred, we were dismayed to see that no progress was made and angry to see the accused trying to bribe the victims to take back their case by offering money and land.  We spent the entire day at the police station where the police inspector interviewed Veena and Jeeva. When Veena  shared the location of the two places where she was raped, once again we were directed to another police station. 

We reached the police station at 5:30 am. Apart from a few police constables, there were no senior officers present and we were asked to come later. An exhausted Veena and her daughters slept in the police station while we returned to our lodging. 

At 9 am Veena’s sister Saru called to say the police inspector had arrived at the station and was refusing to take the case. We reached an hour later and met the inspector in charge, a slight argument ensued after which he shared he would take the case but there were a few technical matters that needed to be resolved first.  

At 6:30 pm, nearly 45 hours after their rescue, the police registered an FIR and sent Veena and her daughters for a medical check up. The doctor only arrived in the hospital at 8 pm and did some routine tests after which both Veena’s daughters were placed in a shelter home in Ahmednagar. Veena returned to her house in Nashik.

2 months later…

Though Veena’s daughters were faring well at a shelter home, they were released and sent back home to Nashik. All three of the accused were arrested and sent to jail but within a few weeks were granted bail and are out. Our legal team is working to revoke their bail order and get three of them thrown back into bail.

A few things about this case that were incredibly frustrating. The victims were transferred from one police station to another and had to sleep in the police station. The police delayed sending them for their medicals, one inspector was reluctant to take the case on because he did not want to increase his station’s crime rate and all three accused are back home while the victims are home spending sleepless nights and trying desperately to forget the abuse that they encountered for such a long time. 

None of the police seemed to genuinely care about this mother and her two minor girls and kept passing them on from one police station to another.  

When will they wake up and treat this injustice and crime as high priority and act swiftly to ensure justice is served?