Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Maoists rape over 2 dozen women

BY DILLIRAM KHATIWADA

JAGATPUR (SAPTARI), Aug 22 - A group of Maoists raped over two-dozen women of a dalit settlement in Jagatpur-4 at gunpoint last week and threatened to "completely destroy" the hamlet in case they disclosed the crime. The incident came to light only on Monday.
About two dozen Maoists, who had come here five days ago, raped females of ages between 22 and 35 years of age, some of whom are mothers of three to four children. Nine victims recounted the harrowing experience in front of a group of human rights activists and journalists who reached the village on Monday.

"They (Maoists) told us to prepare food in the beginning," said Shyam Kumari (name changed), adding, "After they had eaten, they forcibly carried us inside the houses and perpetrated the heinous act in front of other family members." She was raped in front of her father and mother-in-law.

The youth of the village had left the area long time back due to increasing Maoist activities and only children, women and the elderly remain in the village now. There are about 25 dalit families in the village, in the north of the Koshi river bank. Locals are terrified after the incident. "If they know that we told you about the incident, they will come and kill us," said one of the victims, sobbing.

After word spread about the heinous act, the Maoist leadership of the area came to the victims and "apologized". "They prostrated themselves at the victims' feet begging forgiveness and also pledged to take action against those involved," said 65-year-old Gopali Khang, father-in-law of a victim.

Babaji Das, a local, said Maoists had carried out mass rapes on previous occasions also, but threats of Maoist reprisal had sealed their lips.

"Although similar incidents have been taking place since long here, the locals have finally opened their mouths as it has crossed all limits now," said Shankar Giri, a local social worker. The terrorized locals have also asked human rights organizations and journalists to help ensure security for them.

The Kathmandu Post.

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