"On February 24 last year, a daily newspaper reported the rape and assault of several women near Murthal, a town 50 kilometres from Delhi, during violence that broke out during the Jat reservation agitation.
For a long time, the Haryana government denied any such incident, with the police going so far as to rubbish media reports that first brought the issue to light. Nearly a year later, observations by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that these rapes had indeed taken place at Murthal during the Jat protests clearly raise questions on the role of the state that did everything in its power to pass off the incident as a rumour.
Noting witness statements and the fact that women’s undergarments were recovered, the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed on Thursday that the Haryana police should set up a special investigation team to find the culprits.
There is little doubt that the BJP-led Haryana Government did everything in its power to hinder the investigation, rejecting even the faintest possibility of the occurrence of the rapes. The state government team, in fact, said that it could not find any corroborative incident in the media report. The police too stayed in denial mode for the longest time, with reports emerging of the police itself dissuading witnesses from filing cases.
So, why did women’s undergarments strewn on the Murthal highway fail to get the necessary response from Manohar Lal Khattar’s police? Instead of chasing the rapists, why did the police try hiding the crime behind flimsy and ridiculous theories? The answer is two words – Vote-bank Politics.
Jats constitute about 28% of the state’s population (25% of the electorate) and are distributed all over the state. While the ruling BJP didn’t want its image tarnished, the Congress and the INLD who also had a sizeable Jat support base did not want to be seen as those that were targeting the community either."
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