Originally written on Tuesday, February 19, 2013
for Lalitha (Imagined name as the press have not yet published one)
…the woman who was dragged,
raped and left hanging from a tree in a Mango Orchard
In the town of Kahalgaon, Bhagalpur (Bihar, India)
on January 14, 2013…just 2 weeks after Jyoti Singh Pandey
succumbed to her own horrific beating, torture and rape
that occurred on a bus in New Delhi.
Lalitha was travelling from New Jalpaiguri to New Delhi
to join her husband, a labourer in that city.
She was with her 10 year old son
on that last, fateful train journey together.
Witnesses stated that she grew increasingly restless
as the journey transpired…I do not know how it is today, however from memory
many years past, 2nd class or 3rd class travel
has always been a nightmare on the Indian Rail system.
(though I would hazard that she was more than likely
travelling in the un-reserved coach that day
…always a gigantic nightmare in and of itself)
A Typical rail coach accommodates 90 – 100 people.
However it is no surprise to find these coaches
overflowing with more than 125 to 140 people at times.
They simply bully their way in, sprawl their belongings
anywhere they please (floor, bathrooms included),
and drop off to sleep at will…regardless if they
are blocking passage, access to the doors
and/or the bathrooms, or in some cases,
to a seat or berth you may have temporarily vacated,
to ease yourself, or get some food or drink.
The passenger population is almost is almost always
male dominated and the few, scattered women passengers
are open season for gawking, openly horny, aggressively
lustful and often- time downright scary male patrons
Was Lalitha being harassed, sexually taunted,
groped or all of the above?
Was that the reason for her restlessness,
her desire to escape, to get away from that train?
So she figures perhaps she could get a reprieve
by getting off at the next station…Kahalgaon?
Even if only for a few minutes at least,
to escape the nightmare of the coach?
Who knows what happened next?
Did the louts who may have been harassing her on the train
…exit with her?
Or was it the usual suspects at almost any railway station in India?
The local gangsters who often double up as the Coolie bosses
…the thugs who run the unionized coolie (luggage porter) teams?
Or was it the inevitable local ‘Dada’ (gangster) with his cronies?
Did they spot this hapless woman, alone
and obviously disoriented, on their railway platform…their turf?
Did they break up their little private ‘hooch’ party
and threaten/terrify her into leaving the station with them?
(eyewitness reports say she was dragged away)
Try to imagine the terror Lalitha must have experienced
at that very moment, alone in a foreign, desolate place,
with an un-numbered gang of drunken, violent men
who had made their intentions abundantly clear
through their violent behaviour, abusive tone and angry voices
…they were going to have their way with her
…she was never going to get back on that train
…she was never going to see her son..or her husband again
…she was going to be raped, ravaged, beaten, and
…the stark realization that they were probably going to kill her
I cannot imagine what level of ignorance, cruelty
would cause a group of grown, reasoning men
who have already brutally beaten, tortured and gang raped
a lone, helpless woman
and then heap insult upon injury,
by stripping her of her Sari, so she is exposed
and utterly helpless…fashioning a noose from it,
and hanging her from a tree…naked, bound and helpless
to die alone…
I have tried to track progress on the case.
There is none it would seem?
I found nothing that suggests any specific ‘persons of interest’
have been identified?
Nor if or if any suspects are being questioned at all?
As a footnote…It is interesting to note that Kahalgaon
was once a key education hub in the Indian Middle Ages.
Vikramshila University was one of the two most important centers of Buddhist learning in India, along with Nalanda University, during the Pala dynasty
Vikramshila was established by King Dharmapala
to compensate for a supposed decline
in the quality of academic pursuits at Nalanda.
I scratch my head and wonder at the irony…
…from such a profound, spiritually steeped legacy and origin
…from such a proud font of learning for religion and philosophy…that such ignorant, heartless and savage men could emerge.