Jyoti Singh Pandey: Awindra Pandey’s testimony and the Gulabi gang
AFTER they had raped, stripped and tossed Jyoti Singh Pandey from a moving bus, her boyfriend, Awindra Pandey, stood naked in the road. His leg was broken. He’d been badly beaten. Awindra Pandey tried to flag down vehicles for help. For 20 minutes, he was ignored.
“I waved my hand to take help, but people were watching but didn’t stop. I tried so many cars, autos, bikes but no one helped me.”
Mr Pandey, 28, speaks to the Times of the murder of his 23-year-old girlfriend. They’d been to the cinema to see Life of Pi. They wanted to head home. Jyoti’s mother called. She told them to hurry back. It was late. No rickshaw or cab would take them the whole distance. A minibus was not far away. It had tinted windows. It was looking for business. Onboard were a gang of six men. They began to abuse the couple. They produced iron bars.
“She was crying, ‘Help, help, help’, but they started to hit me in the head and on the leg and arms. I fell on the floor of the bus. After 15 or 20 minutes, I heard one of the people say, ‘OK, she’s died’. They came and took all of my clothes, my watch and all my things, and decided to throw us from the bus.”
So. They are on the road. Two naked victim. She is almost unconscious:
“She was asking for water and complaining of pain in her stomach. She was bleeding heavily. They [police] asked me to put her in the van.”
The police would not touch her.
Police got a sheet from a nearby hotel. They asked Mr Pandey to wrap it around her. In the ambulance, they were driven past private clinics. They went to a government hospital.
“Everything was a failure that day…I am dreaming that same thing is happening again and again. I am trying to open my eyes and that same picture is going in my mind, I’m hearing when she cried ‘Help’.”
Justice must prevail.
On a side note, a reminiscence. I’ve been to India twice. The first time I went with a male friend. We had a ball. We travelled widely. We saw the sights. The only bother we had was from drugs pushers and a man in Bombay (as then was) who having taken a poo in the street produced a large plastic gun and demanded money from us. We laughed. He flashed toothy grin.
The second time was with a girlfriend. The trip was very different. In Delhi, she was pushed and groped repeatedly. A mini cab drove past the destination we had chosen and took us to a shady looking building. We refused to get out. More men got into the car. It drove off. It was very dark outside. We had not idea where we were. I saw a large hotel and kicked the car door open. The hotel porter saw us. The men in the car talked fast and loudly. The car stopped. We dived out. The men sped off.
Then to Goa. On the beach, the sun went out. I opened my eyes and a group of more than ten men were stood directly over us. They handed me a camera. They then sat all around my girlfriend, touching her as much as they dared, and asking for a photo. I made to hand them back their camera. I laughed and told them to move. But I was unnerved. They didn’t move. They grinned and pushed me away from my friend, a few of them standing between us. I could barely see her. One placed his arm around my shoulders. I threw threw camera into the sea. This was bravado. I was unnerved. Then the British-born Indians from the restaurant where we’d been eating charged down the beach. They had sticks. The men ran off.
India is not a romantic idyll. Libby Purves:
Britain, in particular, tends to sentimentality about India and it has been easy, despite brave voices from within the country, to ignore the ugly faultline in the world’s biggest democracy. For murderous, hyena-like male contempt is a norm here too. Despite its modernisations, the country has taken little care to promote serious cultural change where women are concerned. A newspaper editorial there charitably describes a “twilight zone” where traditional social and religious norms are fading “while modern values based on individual liberty have not yet gained acceptance”.
Many young men consider “Eve-teasing” (the disgustingly coy subcontinent euphemism for sexual harassment and assault) as their male birthright. The rapists in this case were, we are told, from this demographic; their victim a medical student whose parents sold their land to pay for her education. Such men see successful and ambitious young women on their way to work in short skirts, laughing and holding hands with boyfriends. Cue scorn, anger , envy and lust. I put lust at the end of that list, because rape has always had an element of contempt, a desire to put uppity women in their place.
India needs more of these women in the Gulabi gang:
The founder of the gulabis is the fearless Sampat Pal Devi, 40, who was married off at the age of 12 to an ice-cream vendor and had the first of her five children at 15. The gulabis, whose members say they are a “gang for justice,” started in 2006 as a sisterhood of sorts that looked out for victims of domestic abuse, a problem the United Nations estimates affects two in three married Indian women. Named after their hot-pink sari uniforms, the gang paid visits to abusive husbands and demanded they stop the beatings. When obstinate men refused to listen, the gulabis would return with large bamboo sticks called laathis and “persuade” them to change their ways. “When I go around with a stick, it’s to make men fear me. I don’t always use it, but it helps change the mind of men who think they are more powerful than me” says Pal. She has assumed the rank of commander in chief and has appointed district commanders across seven districts in Bundelkhand to help coordinate the gang’s efforts.
More of them. Demand justice and change in a loud voice – and carry a big stick…
Image: Members of a ‘gulabi gang’ (pink gang), a women’s vigilante group, as they meet for a protest in Allahabad, India, Monday, July 6, 2009. The group is so named after their pink dresses that they wear and was formed in Uttar Pradesh State’s Banda district. They brandish sticks and fight for social issues.