Monday, February 20, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Banda rape victim campaigns against BSP

Banda rape victim campaigns against BSP
Pankaj Shah, TNN Feb 19, 2012, 07.35AM IST

NARAINI (BANDA): Dalit girl Sheelu, who was allegedly raped by BSP
Naraini MLA Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi in 2010, has found her own way
to seek justice for her trauma.

The 18-year-old dalit girl, who holds a grudge against BSP, has joined
ranks with the Congress and campaigning for the party candidate
Mahendra Singh Verma in Naraini assembly constituency.

Although chief minister Mayawati dumped Sheelu's perpetrator Dwivedi
-- who is in jail for the crime -- after media played up the incident,
Sheelu's support may dent the prospect of BSP's Naraini candidate
Gyancharan Dinkar.

Naraini village where Sheelu lives is dominated by dalits. Her stance,
therefore, may affect the political prospects of BSP in Banda which
goes to the poll on Sunday.

Even Sheelu's father Achhe Lal, who ardently campaigned for BSP when
Dwivedi was the candidate in 2007, has come out in support of his

"No one from the BSP came to us when we needed them the most. I think
it is the Congress which can bring justice to us," Sheelu said.

In Naraini village, a police outpost outside Achhe Lal house is the
landmark. The cops are there to protect Lal's 18-yearold daughter
Sheelu. Sheelu's nightmare did not end after she was raped by the MLA
and his men. She was later jailed on charges of theft. Her life
shattered, Sheelu now lives under the police shadow. Her every
movement is under constant vigil of cops who fear that she may be
attacked again.

Ironically, Acche Lal, a dalit, was a hardcore BSP supporter. He
campaigned for Purushottan Naresh during the 2007 assembly election.
Naresh went on to become the MLA. Three years later he darkened
Sheelu's life and shook the confidence of villagers of Naraini,
majority of whom are dalits.

Achhe Lal recalled the nightmare. In the summer of 2009, Sheelu went
missing from her grandmother's house in Harnampur village on UP-Madhya
Pradesh border. Sheelu's mother Sudama Devi died when she was three.
Since then she had been living with her grandmother. "She could not be
traced for over a year and we were getting worried,'' he said. Acche
Lal contacted Purushottam who assured of helping him in finding

One day Achhe Lal got a call from a woman who claimed that Sheelu was
locked up in a hut in Patra village in Banda. "I went to the said
house which was locked. I tried to look through a hole in the door and
found a heap of mattresses on the floor,'' he recalled. He barged into
the hut and started removing the mattresses only to discover Sheelu
lying underneath them, unconscious. It transpired that one Rajju Patel
had kidnapped her. The girl was brought back to Naraini village.

Purushottam approached Acche Lal telling him that he will take care of
Sheelu. "He said that he would provide education to my daughter and
even get her married,'' he said. Within four days he received a call
from Sheelu. "Her voice was shaking. She was crying and pleading
repeatedly to take her away,'' he recalled. The phone got disconnected
before Acche could understand what exactly happened to his daughter.

Next day he found Sheelu locked up in Naraini police station with
charges of stealing Rs 90,000 and a case slapped on her. With all the
media glare around, it was soon established that Sheelu had been raped
and framed in wrong charges. Purushottam Naresh Dwivedi, who had won
the 2007 election by a margin over 5,000 votes, soon found himself
expelled from BSP. While Dwivedi is still cooling heels in Banda jail,
Sheelu lives under a shadow of terror.

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