Mumbai: Two years after a minor, Sudha, (name changed to protect identity) from a tribal community residing in a Goregaon village, was raped, she is yet to obtain the compensation promised to rape survivors under the Manodhairya scheme of the Maharashtra government.
The Maharashtra government provides Rs 2 lakh compensation under this scheme, for the rehabilitation of rape survivors. Unfortunately, her widowed mother Ratni, has been running from pillar to post at the office of the state women and child welfare ministry, Chembur, to get the money.
Ratni, sells vegetables opposite the Dindoshi, Goregaon (E) sessions court and barely manages to earn Rs 200 a day. Besides, her daughter, who is now preparing for her Class 10 board exams, she has a younger son who is in Class 7. The family has moved to a different location to help Sudha get over the traumatic episode and move on.
After learning about the Manodhairya scheme, Ratni had thought she could invest some of the money in her children’s education. She said, ” I purchase rice and wheat at Rs 2 and Rs 3 a kilo from the ration shop and take care of other small expenses through my earnings from selling vegetable. After the incident, I was asked to open an account in a national bank.
I received a letter from Kurar Police Station, telling me my daughter is eligible for compensation under the Manodhairya scheme. I have all the necessary papers and with these, I went to the women and child welfare officer of Chembur for help but none was forthcoming. I am not educated and am struggling to understand the legal issues involved. The state government raised my hopes with this offer of assistance but now, I am feeling betrayed.”
She breaks down as she recounts the horrific incident. “I was at my usual spot, selling vegetables and my daughter was at home. Like she did every day after coming home from school in the afternoon, she was playing with other girls. That was when the monster, Rajiv Ambule, 52, whom my girl addressed as ‘mama’, gave her money asking her to buy a packet of biscuits for him. At first, my daughter refused because she was busy at play. Upon his insistence, she agreed to do so.
When she went to his house to hand over the packet, the accused asked her to come inside. As soon as she stepped in, she was chloroformed and raped. When her friends did not see her come out for a long time, they told their parents. The parents rushed to the house of the accused, broke open the door and found her. My daughter was frightened and weeping.”
Ratni was just recovering from the loss of her husband and this incident occurred two-and-a-half months later. The accused, Rajiv Ambule, 52, is now in jail, charged under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 376 (2), (a),(b)–punishment for rape, 354(b) — assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe, 342-punishment for wrongful confinement, 506 –offence of criminal intimidation, 509–act intended to insult the modesty of a woman, and section 4,8 and 12 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
Activist Vitthal Lad of the Shramik Mukti Sanghatana, who helped the family register the case expressed disappointment at the government’s apathy towards tribal people. He said, “It’s sad that in the past several such incidents have been reported, and not just girls, even boys have been sexually assaulted. As in the National Park area, there is no school for tribal children, students must come to the city for education and this is when miscreants grab the opportunity to attack them. It is high time the government takes steps for the welfare of tribal people and ensures justice for them.”