Gaya: Patwa Toli is a locality in Manpur block of Gaya district, Bihar which derives its name from ‘Patwa Community’ who are traditional weavers engaged in stitching clothes using local thread. In past decade, Patwa Toli emerged as an education hub and breeding ground for IITians. But sadly this achievement is getting eclipsed by a recent murder of a teenage girl.
The beginning of public stir:
Since two weeks, Gaya town is on verge of unimaginable chaos and public stir. Huge protest against the inhuman killing of 16-year-old girl, Anjana Kumari, a resident of Patwa Toli. On December 28 evening she went to a shop and never returned back home. Nine days later on 6 January 2019, she was found beheaded with body mutilated and decapitated. Immediately without concrete evidence based investigation, police declared it as case of ‘honor killing’ which rattled the Patwa community.
On January 9, there was a huge protest, approximately 10,000 people had hit streets undertaking a candle march demanding justice for the deceased girl and was also aimed at delay in police action. Along with this, thousands of power looms were shut down with 40,000 weavers going on strike. This to a great extent had paralyzed the local economy.
Stand of Patwa Community:
Patwa Toli locality is in state of shock. The Vastra Udyog Bunkar Sewa Samiti has been leading the agitation and is financially helping the victim’s family. While speaking to Newsd Prem Narayan Patwa, President of Vastra Udyog Bunkar Sewa Samiti said, such a heinous crime did not take place in nearby area but moreover the stand of local police and high rank officers have remained vindicated in shielding the main culprit.
He further adds- The public outcry over the alleged rape and murder for two consecutive days perhaps forced the local police to put the onus of the killing on the family. Thousands of weaver abandoned their work went on indefinite strike. On the assurance of DIG workers have started their activities but this should not be taken for granted, if timely results are shown up then we resolve to continue our strike.
The community members have also alleged a caste angle, pointing fingers at DSP Abhijit Kumar Singh, who belongs to Rajput caste and is known to act inappropriately against the weavers community in past and so as to influence the ongoing investigation in favour of some high profile people. A senior member of the Patwa community under the condition of anonymity said silence of Bihar’s DGP on this issue is obvious as SSP of Gaya is his son-in-law whom we have questioned since first day of his remark on honour killing.
The community has placed two set of demands
- A CBI investigation free without the intervention of local police and
- Immediate removal of DSP Abhijit Kumar Singh who is alleged to influence the case heading it towards the wrong direction.
The community has also alleged an attempt by anti-social elements to stop the prosperous cycle which is moving by our hard efforts be it in weaving clothes or the success of our children in the field of education.
Buniyadganj police were late in taking action. This starts with registering a late FIR on missing of the teen age girl. On 4th January victim’s father registered the complaint prior to this he made several rounds of the police station.
Immediately after recovery of the dead body, Gaya SSP, Rajiv Mishra termed it as a case of ‘honour killing’ and said- We suspected honour killing when the police were first not allowed to talk to family members of the girl. When the girl’s sister told us about her return on December 31, we got a thread to investigate on the lines of honour killing. But till then postmortem reports and medical reports based on investigation did not come out.
This stand of police was contradicted by the victim’s elder sister who alleged torturing of her parents and herself by lady constable and DSP Abhijit Kumar Singh. While talking to Newsd, she confessed, “The local police forcibly sought confessions from me. Return of my sister on 31st December is police’s version. Using electric shock they threatened us.
Assistant Deputy General (ADG), law and order, Alok Raj met with a delegation of the Vastra Udyog Bunkar Sewa Samiti on Sunday. During the meeting, claimants alleged that the Gaya police tortured the victim’s family members in order to extract a confession from them whereas ADG assured them of justice at the earliest.
A couple of days back the Crime Investigation Department (CID) with Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) arrived to collect and examine samples from the spot where the girl’s body was found. Statements have revealed that the minor was allegedly tortured and raped before being beheaded. But victim’s mother Asha Devi has alleged that CID officers are pressurizing her to accept police’s standpoint of Anjana returning home on 31st December 2018 which did not happen according to the family and local people.
Speaking on the murder issue, Magadh Range DIG Vinay Kumar said- We have got CCTV footage in which the girl is seen passing through a street (on December 28). We want you to provide us with CCTV footage of all adjoining routes in 360-degree angle of the girl’s house. We will approach the case with an open mind and hear what you are saying. Let us come up with evidence which cannot be disputed and is legally sound. The DIG spoke to the girl’s family, including her mother.
Flaws in police investigation:
While investigating the murder of teenage girl, police since inception have committed blunders. They are as follows:
- The police registered the FIR of the girl missing from home, after pressure from the local community.
- Police did not barricade the crime scene. Without restricted movement in and around the place of dead body recovery, how can one ensure availability of circumstantial evidences?
- Displacement of the dead body for investigation was done without medical experts and safety procedures.
- Gaya SSP was found terming the murder as ‘honour killing’ but till then post mortem report did not come out.
- Without concrete evidence, the victim’s father was arrested.
The variance in police’s standpoint and allegation of victims family raises undoubted questions on the mistakes mentioned above are basic tenets of handling any criminal case. But until the final conclusion of the case comes in the finger remains crossed.
The outrage against this cruelty has gone beyond Bihar. Mukti Ranjan, a Bengaluru-based software engineer had organized a torchlight procession. Foreign print media such as New York Times, Fox News, The Guardian have highlighted the murder but absolute silence from the government’s side is shocking.
Except, Jan Kranti Adhikar Morcha, Chief Pappu Yadav, former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi and CPI (ML), no reaching out empathizing towards victim’s family. No statement from Chief Minister or Deputy Chief Minister has sent a depressing message to residents of Gaya’s Patwa Toli.
All hope remains on an impartial speedy justice to teenage girl whose life lost in dark world of heinous crime at a place which enjoys a legacy of peaceful prosperity with achievements in field of education.