Almost daily, the news portals flash news apropos to rape cases because in our country, approximately 93 women are raped every day.
However, few days ago, a gangrape case grabbed many eyeballs. Why? Because the accused rapists were BSF (Border Security Force) personnel. Officers responsible for our safety at the border fronts became the reason behind a girl’s unsafe journey. A minor travelling in the Howrah-Amritsar express was reportedly raped by three BSF men in the moving train.
According to sources, the girl had fled from her home and was travelling to Ludhiana to meet a friend. There were three BSF officers in the same coach. Initially, the girl was offered liquor by one of the army personnel and later on, the other two allegedly raped her in the toilet. The girl was found in the compartment when RPF (Railway Protection Force) raided the train at Madhupur station on receiving a message from RPF Howrah. One of the accused was apprehended on the same day.
The other two were arrested at the Guwahati Airport a few days later. All three of the accused rapists have been kept on remand and a test identification parade will be held on January 7.
All the alleged rapists have been detained, but this instance has spurred a subtle statement – in this case, two BSF officers were the alleged rapists, and if BSF officers can commit such a heinous crime, then anyone can.
It is not the first time that such a case has been reported. There have been many instances where officers have had charges of rape levelled against them. Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), Act of the Parliament of India that grants special provisions to the Indian Armed Forces in “disturbed areas” has often been in the news for the wrong reasons. Civilians in areas with the AFSPA imposed have frequently opposed it in majority for this reason.
Thangjam Manorama was a Manipuri woman who on July 10, 2004, was picked up from her home by the Indian paramilitary unit, 17th Assam Rifles on uncertain allegations of being associated with the People’s Liberation Army. The next morning, her bullet-ridden corpse was found in a field. An autopsy revealed semen marks on her skirt suggesting rape and murder.
In a well-publicized case, in May 1990, a young bride, Mubina Gani, was detained and ostensibly raped by BSF soldiers while she was returning home from a wedding. Her aunt was also raped. The Security forces had also fired on the party, killing one man and wounding several others. The government claimed that the party had been caught in a “cross-fire.” After the incident was publicized in local and international press, Indian authorities ordered the police to conduct an inquiry. Although the inquiry concluded that the women were raped, the culprits were never prosecuted.
There are many such past instances where the armed forces misused their power and position. As a citizen of a nation so proud of its defence forces; it feels disheartening when certain people representing this “symbol of pride” commit such heinous crime as rape.
A uniform doesn’t give someone the right to play with a woman’s prestige. Many times, the law doesn’t give priority to cases involving armed men as the forces are a mark of glory for the nation and cases like these may defame the country. The government should never forget that in a democratic country, the law is equal for all.
The government should treat such cases with equal legitimacy. Also, soldiers who have misused or have been misusing their powers should understand that being the safeguards of our nation, these acts create the wrong image of the defence services for the masses.
A soldier must work as a shield for the nation, and he must go by this obligation earnestly.