Hindu men found guilty of gang-raping Muslim woman during Muzaffarnagar riots after 10 yearstext_fields
Muzaffarnagar: In a significant victory for justice, a court in Muzaffarnagar has handed down a historic verdict in a case of gang-rape that occurred during the communal riots of 2013. Two Hindu men, Maheshvir and Sikander Malik, have been found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison. This marks the first conviction for one of the gang-rapes that took place, causing the death of over 60 people and leaving hundreds homeless.
The victim, whose identity is withheld due to safety concerns, persevered with the case for a decade, while the other victims had dropped their cases after being subjected to intimidation and harassment. She became the last of seven women who continued their battle for justice.
These convictions are seen as a ray of hope for the Muslim community, who have been facing increasing discrimination under the current right-wing, Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP. The rise of Hindutva, an agenda promoting Hindu nationalism, has exacerbated the sense of persecution among religious minorities in the country.
The violence in 2013 was triggered by rumours of a Muslim boy's alleged sexual abuse of a Hindu girl in Kawal village. As the riot spread across western Uttar Pradesh, the victim, then 26 years old, fled her village in Shamli district with her three-month-old son, seeking safety in a sugarcane field. The accused three men found her and threatened the child’s life at gunpoint before subjecting her to a horrific rape.
The victim, who initially chose to remain silent due to the fear of the stigma associated with rape, was inspired by other victims who came forward and filed cases with the police. After years of delays and obstacles, the case finally went to trial in April of this year, thanks to Amena's perseverance and appeals to the highest courts.
Aside from the rape conviction, the perpetrators were also sentenced to two years for criminal intimidation and fined 10,000 rupees each. Despite the verdict, Amena and her family continue to live in fear, knowing that the attackers and their relatives are aware of their whereabouts.