Mr PM, listen to Muslim women who faced sexual harassment in Delhi violence before talking on their empowerment

  • Very shameful acts have happened to Muslim women during Delhi violence
  • There are allegations ranging from tearing clothes to rape, many girls missing
  • PM Modi will dedicate his social media account to women on Women’s Day
  • The PM must listen to the suffering of these women before talking of women empowerment

Yusuf Ansari,

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This Monday social media buzzed with reactions on Prime Minister Narendra Modi leaving social media to dedicate his private accounts this year on International Women’s Day to inspirational women. While talking to women journalists, activists and social workers, one can understand that this move of Modi to “give away” his social media handles to powerful women on March 8 is actually an ill-timed, publicity stunt. Modi, who actively endorses ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ is now answerable to reports of sexual crimes against women during the Delhi riots.

In the aftermath, as journalists are visiting the riot-hit areas, it has been observed that what happened with women is unspeakable by the victims, and even when a few of them muster the courage to speak, it is difficult to hear such painful experiences. spent several hours on Wednesday talking to victims at the Eidgah, Mustafabad, the relief camp for Delhi riot victims. In those hours, the team realized how horrifying the 3 day violence was for women. Many were refusing to talk about it, while a few gathered the courage to open up to our female trainee reporter, narrating terrible sexual abuse during the night of the riots. Rioters barged into houses attacked women by tearing clothes and some tried raping these women. Some reports of rape have been surfaced too, although no woman has reported rape till now.

Mostly women victims complained that when their houses were being attacked and men were being brutally beaten, their Hindu neighbors outright refused to help them. On the other hand, there were instances where women thanked their Hindu neighbors saying if they were alive, it was only due to them saving them from the rioters.

“Muslim aurat ko hamare hawale karo” (Hand over the Muslim woman to us!), demanded the rioters when this Muslim mother of a one-year-old was helped to hide inside a Hindu neighbor’s house. She narrated that her Hindu neighbors bravely shooed the rioters away saying there was no Muslim among them and all were family. Later, they helped her escape to Indira Vihar where she stayed till Monday in the shelter.

The relief camp in Mustafabad’s Eidgah has around 2000 victims in the shelter right now, with separate tents for men, and for women and children. Men are not allowed inside camps for women and children, while journalists are given access on the condition that they would communicate sensitively with the victims. When the team met a few women inside the camp, most of them refused to speak in front of the camera. One even complained that she had been interviewed by a TV journalist and after the broadcast on TV, she is now being harassed by the Police.

“Hamare kapde phaad diye, wo hamein kapra pakad kar kheench rahe thhe” (They tore our clothes, they were pulling us by our clothes), said one woman Nasreen Jahan inside the camp. She then narrated how the mob of armed rioters in Shiv Vihar entered their homes chanting slogans and pulling women inside the homes. She said her head had been severely injured and was bleeding while she somehow managed to escape the rioters who were trying to physically assault her.

Another woman Shakeela beside her said, “Achanak kayi log Jai Shri Ram ka naara lagate hue hamare ghar ghus gaye aur hamein pakad liya” (Suddenly a mob chanting Jai Shri Ram entered our houses and caught us). She narrated that these men misbehaved with them, forcing them to chant the slogan with them. They were verbally abusing the women with filthy language. The mob then broke their furniture and other things and finally torched their house. The mob proceeded towards the mosque in the lane and burnt it down too. When her family sought help from the neighboring Hindu family, they shut their doors.

“Aao hum tumhi se Ram paida karenge” (Come! We’ll produce Ram from you), said a Hindu shopkeeper to a woman who had gone to buy ration from the nearby shop on Sunday. She said the shopkeeper caught hold of her tightly and pulled her dupatta saying he would give her ‘Azadi’. She narrated that her hindu neighbors advised her to move to a safer place and the next day, she, with her family left the area. Similar incidents have been reported by women who were encountered by rioters shouting ‘Hum denge tumhe azadi’ (We will give you freedom), who tried to sexually assault them during the riots.

“Kejriwal ko vote diya hai na? Ab bulao usay, dekhte hain kaise bachata hai wo tumhe” (You have voted for Kejriwal? Call him now, we will see how he saves you from us now), shouted a violent mob who barged into a house in Mustafabad to molest the Muslim woman inside. The woman, on the condition of anonymity, told our female trainee reporter the whole incident how these men, chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ with a saffron stole wrapped around their necks, barged into houses and went on a mad spree smashing windows, glasses, television and refrigerators. They looked heavily drunk and kept on using filthy language for women while breaking things that came their way. When done with damaging property, they proceeded to loot valuable materials and then hit women inside. She continued with details, “Do aadmiyon ne mere upar hamla kiya. Ek ne mera dupatta kheencha aur doosre ne mera kurta phaar diya” (Two men attacked me. One of them pulled my dupatta, the other tore my kurta). Just when they were about to do something unthinkable, she explains, she took a heavy object and hit one of them on the head with great force. Quickly, she ran into another room and locked herself inside. The two men chased her and started banging the doors loudly when a group of people entered and rescued her.

On the basis of more such reports from riot victims, team talked to a female lawyer, Sarah Verghese, from Supreme Court Bar Association. Sarah confirmed that such reports are emerging from Muslim women in relief camps, although the total number of such reports is still in count. Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) chief, Swati Maliwal, who visited the camp, has also reported hearing such incidents of sexual crimes among women during the riots. In response to this, Swati had sought an inquiry and police report into sexual crimes against women in the Delhi riots. She had demanded the police report by March 4, to which police has not released any information yet.

“The incidents of sexual crimes against women that we are receiving through 181 Helpline and those we heard from victims in camps are beyond scaring,” said Swati. She said she had asked for information from the police regarding the total number of females who died in the riots but so far, nothing has been revealed from their side. She informed that the DCW team is closely investigating this matter.

Women victims of sexual violence in the Delhi riots who we spoke to in the Mustafabad camp feel that Narendra Modi’s latest move to honor inspirational women through his social media handle on March 8 is just a publicity gimmick. One of them said, “Triple talaaq par Muslim aurton se hamdardi dikhane waale PM ko aaj hum par hua zulm nahi dikh raha” (The PM who sympathized with Muslim women regarding the Triple Talaaq is now unable to see the crimes committed against us).

Tattered and beaten by such painful incidents, the woman remarked, “Tab toh 56 inch ki chhati thok kar keh rahe thhe ki Musalman behnon par zulm nahi hone denge, ab kyon chup hain?” The words of women are harsh and sharp. These women are asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi whether women’s empowerment will be done by disrespecting Muslim women only.