A 20-year-old Gulnaz Khatoon, in Bihar's Vaishali burnt to death by goons, no religious angle and police are favouring the accused, fact-finding report of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat revealed.
The five-member delegation of AIMMM visited Rasulpur Habib in Vaishali district of Bihar on November 18, 2020.
According to the fact finding report of the organization Gulnaz Khatoon, was burnt alive over resisting sexual harassment and forced interfaith marriage, on October 30.
"The Accused Satish Kumar Rai, had been harassing Gulnaz to make physical relationship and to marry him, after she refused he threatened to kill her on October 29 and burnt her alive after pouring kerosene over her on October 30" the report read.
"With 75 percent burn injuries, she was admitted to Samprabhu hospital immediately, but her condition worsened and she was referred to Patna Medical College and hospital. She succumbed to death on November 15 in Patna Hospital. After her death, her family staged the protest at a city square demanding punishment for culprits. Mother of Gulnaz, Saimoona Khatoon alleged that police delayed in taking action against the accused, identified as, Satish Kumar Rai, Chandan and Vinod Rai." the report further read.
According to the report, Gulnaz Khatoon in her last video statement had said that she was going to throw garbage around 6 pm when Satish Rai forcefully poured kerosene over her and set her ablaze. The evidential video went viral on social media.
The report stated that in spite of public uproar and demand of investigation police inaction can be seen as they delayed in initiating the investigation process.
"After having the responses from a population of Rasulpur Habib village, we couldn't find any religious angle to the case. However, in the mixed population of the village, the majority is of Hindus. The crime was solely committed by goons." the report stated.
All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat is an umbrella body of Muslim Organisations. It has been advocating for peace, justice and communal harmony since 1964. The delegation team comprised of Dr. Anwarul Hoda, secretary General of All India Muslim Majlis e Mushawarat (Bihar chapter), Zia Ul Qamar and Zahid Kareem, Jamat-e-Islami Hind, Mohammad Naushad Ansari, Advocate, Patna High Court, Shahzad Rasheed, Advocate, Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR Bihar Unit) and Azimuddin Ansari from Peace Foundation.
The delegation also made a demand in order to provide justice and preventing such incidents in future.
"Stern punishment should be given to the culprits without any delay. The investigation should be transferred to the crime branch-criminal investigation department, as local police are found favouring culprits." the delegation demanded.
The delegation also demanded a compensation of rupees 5 lakh for the victim's mother.
"One member of the family should be given government employment as they have lost an earning hand of their family. The affected family should be provided due safety." the delegation demanded in its report.
According to some reports, it is said that family of the victim was threatened by authorities and forced to withdraw the case, at the same time the fact-finding report says that there was no religious angle found in this case.
Dr. Anwarul Hoda, general secretary of AIMMM, while talking to Madhyamam confirmed that the observation is based on the villager's response as well as the victim's family.
He said, "The family confirmed that they faced delay in investigation because they (culprit) are very powerful people and have a strong influence over authorities, the police is not ready to cooperate or help us because they are being ordered to do the same."
The demands which are made by fact finding committee in regard to Gulnaz Khatoon case are directed to State Government.
He called out government for making laws with communal agendas and giving them term such as 'Love Jihad' and said, "What does love jihad means, this is directed to target one community whereas, forceful interfaith marriages should be countered for once and for all"
"This crime against Gulnaz was also based on forceful interfaith marriage; why not give it a term related to women security and honour. Why not make laws related to ensure protection for women. The primary concern for the government should be women safety and not propaganda against any community in the name of women" he further said.
The inaction of authorities and police are very evident and we are working to ensure and demand justice for Gulnaz and all such cases.
Earlier on Saturday, December 05, feminists groups and activists released a joint statement demanding a speedy investigation into harassment and murder of Gulnaz Khatoon and similar cases of violence against women.
The statement said that over past months, there has been an increase in crimes and violence against women across different sections of class, caste and religion.
The statement was endorsed by different organizations and feminists groups and activists including Teesta Setalvad, Bebaak collective, Saheli, Sandhya Gokhale, Awaaz e Niswaan, Humsafar NGO, Nandita Gandhi and many others across the nation.
The statement demanded the arrest of the culprits, protection of victim's family, compensation for the loss, ensuring free and fair investigation, accountability of police officers concerned delaying the process of investigation in Gulnaz case.