|You are policemen's women, husbands tell them|
MISSING HER MOTHER: Bharati, daughter of a rape victim, being consoled by a neighbour at Vakapalli on Thursday.
PADERU: Even as a strong wave of protest is sweeping against the gang-rape of 11 Girijan women in the Visakha agency area, and the police top brass fully denying the charge, more insult is heaped on the victims in the shape of a social boycott.
Since they have returned to their village Vakapalli in G. Madugula mandal, about 50 km from here on Tuesday night, the rape victims are not allowed into their home. "You are policemen's women," their husbands told them. The women watch their children from a distance. The victims are given shelter by village headman Korra Dumarayya.
The women faced "Keedu" (lost the honour as they were raped by other men) and redemption for them is only after those who brought them "Keedu" are punished. Then they will be purified according to Kondu rituals.
"This is our custom and decided by our elders," said Dumarayya on Thursday at the village. However, he seems not too happy with the trauma the women are facing.
Among the women, Janaki has a small boy, Eswara Rao, who is still fed by his mother's milk. Now, Janaki's husband Masteswara Rao is giving gruel to his son.
Vantala Rendo has two daughters. When the younger one Bharati, just about two years, was brought outside her house by a neighbour she started crying after noticing her mother.
The rest of the women have school-going children. The children loiter around the headman's house and their mothers watch them with pain in their eyes as they could not feed them after coming back from school, a daily chore a mother will not miss. Husbands of victims were in their fields on Thursday afternoon.
Pangi Sridevi, wife of Suryam who was picked up by the police for interrogation and brought to the village on Monday morning and was witness to the gang-rape, lost her one-and-half-month-old baby one week before the incident. But she was also subjected to the gang-rape in her house, which is at one end of the first row of houses.
The victims said 21 policemen entered the village around 6 a.m. while some others were positioned around the village.
The men folk leave the village around 3 a.m. everyday and the policemen gang-raped them, said the victims. Some broken bangles were still lying on the trampled plants in the fields adjacent to the village, where some women were raped.
On Thursday morning, Sub-Collector of Paderu, Lokesh Kumar, visited the village and assured them that many benefits like silver oak trees, bulls, sheep, loans, Anganwadi Centre, etc., would be provided to them. But he did not talk about the gang-rape incident, the villagers said. "No official visited us before," they said.
Later, Member of SC and ST Commission Gummadi Sandhya Rani visited the village. State leaders of several peoples' organisations and local leaders of political parties visited the village to console the victims and offered support.
Among them was Chandranna of Jana Shakti Party, who participated in the peace talks between the Government and naxalites a few years ago.
The village is located in a picturesque valley and provides a beautiful sight from the G. Madugula-Boithali road. But the 11 women in the village are facing a great insult of social boycott.Public meeting
TDP, CPI and CPM organised a rally from Nurmati to Maddi Garuvu, a few kilometres from Vakapalli and forced closure of weekly shandy at Maddi Garuvu where a public meeting was held.