The “Forum of Concerned Citizens for Naliya Incident” sent a fact-finding team to Kutch on February 20. The members of the team were Dineshbhai Sanghvi, Meenakshi Joshi, Balendra Vaghela, Dr Jharna Pathak and advocate Shabana Mansuri. Based on their report, the Forum has prepared this note:
We, as concerned citizens, feel it is urgently warranted to draw your attention to the shameful Naliya gang rape case and the sex racket in Gujarat for your prompt intervention and action to deliver justice to the victims.
The Naliya gang rape and the sex racket have created tremors in the state. It is the saga of an unemployed young girl, seeking a job, who falls into the most monstrous sex racket operated by people belonging to the ruling BJP party that is enjoying impunity in the Kutch district. The victim is now knocking the door of justice but doubt persists whether there will be an impartial enquiry as very powerful influential leaders, and elected representatives of the BJP party are involved in the sex racket.
The enquiry is moving sluggishly and direct and indirect measures are being taken to vitiate the atmosphere against the victim in the dirtiest way.
The Naliya incident
The victim is a 19-year-old married woman, who came from Mumbai after a dispute with her husband, followed by a divorce. She decided to come to her parental home in Kothara (Naliya Taluka) of Kutch district. She was in dire necessity of a job so she approached a nearby mobile shop owner. He took her to a gas agency owner who assured her a job with a salary of Rs 5500. Ahead of Diwali, the woman asked the gas agent for half of the salary as an advance payment, to meet house expenses. The agent asked her to come to his residence to collect the money. She went to his house and after having a spiked drink, was gang raped by three men. She was unconscious and was photographed and videographed.
She was then made part of a sex racket involving ten persons, mostly belonging to ruling party BJP. She was handed over to different persons; in hotels and farmhouses. She later filed a complaint in the Naliya police station. In her complaint she alleged that she had been the victim of multiple gang rapes by ten males since August 2015. According to her, one of the accused, Shantilal Solanki of BJP, offered an amount of one crore to the victim to remain silent. She was blackmailed and threatened to withdraw the FIR.
The victim has alleged that at least 35 women are trapped in this sex racket and 65 persons are involved. She also added that Deen Dawal Education workshop BJP identity cards were provided to the girls to gain access to BJP party functions.
The government formed a SIT and the accused have been arrested: Shantilal Solanki, Bharat Darji, Babba Sheth, Chetan Thakkar, Ashwin Thakkar, Ajit Parumal,Vasant Bhanushali and Govind has been arrested. One accused Vipul Thakkar is absconding.
From the month of October last year, the sex racket was the talk of Naliya town and was flashed in the media. Kutch-Morbi MP Vinod Chavda had announced that that he had information of this case since three months but did not act.
Naliya sex racket is tip of the iceberg
It seems that rape has become an epidemic in Gujarat. Other incidences like Patan gang rape, Asaram sex crimes, Parul university sex crime, are all cases that got patronage of the ruling BJP party.
In the district of Kutch, in the last six months, 117 cases of rape and 299 cases of domestic violence were filed. There are many cases which are still not registered due to political pressure.
Women are becoming the worst victim of this ‘Gujarat model of development’. On one hand there are slogans of 'Beti Bachao' in the state and on the other exploitation of women is alarmingly rampant in various forms.
It is believed that Naliya-like sex rackets are operating throughout Gujarat, taking advantage of the poverty and unemployment of women. But the Naliya woman gathered courage to expose this racket for which she is rightly called the 'Nirbhaya of Naliya'. Under these circumstances, there are rising protests throughout the state.