One of two sisters sentenced to be raped in India after their brother ran off with a married woman from a higher caste has spoken out about her fear.
Meenakshi Kumari, 23, has described how she has been unable to sleep or leave the house for fear of the village elders – who sentenced her and her 15-year-old sister to rape – sending someone to deliver the punishment.
“I can’t sleep, I’m very scared. How will we ever return home or to our village? If we ever return they will harm us or rape us. If not today then in the future. ’ she said from a secret location in Delhi, 30 miles from their village Sankrot, in Uttar Pradesh, India.
‘Jats never forget and they will not forget this humiliation. They want their revenge. Loving someone is not wrong.’
Meenakshi and her little sister were with their family in Delhi for a wedding when a neighbour called and told them not to return to their village.
The neighbour warned that the un-elected village council, Khap panchayat, dominated by the upper caste ‘Jat’ men, had ordered the two sisters be raped and paraded naked with their faces blackened as punishment for their brother’s actions.
Their brother, Ravi Kumar, 25, from the Dalit caste – historically known as ‘untouchables’ – had been in a relationship with 21-year-old Krishna from the Jat caste for almost two years.
When both families discovered the relationship, they did all they could to keep the two lovers apart.
The siblings’ older brother Sumit Kumar, 28, who works as a constable in the Delhi Police, told his younger brother to end the relationship immediately, as they would never be together.
‘We belong to a lower caste, they are from an upper caste,’ he said.
‘I told him this relationship could never work. We are treated as untouchables but he didn’t listen to me and now we are paying for it.’
Ravi met Krishna two years ago, when she joined his computer classes for children in Khekada, Uttar Pradesh.
They exchanged phone numbers and quickly fell in love. They were on the phone to each other all the time and arranged covert meetings in secret locations.
But when Ravi’s father Naik Dharampal Singh, 52, heard of the relationship he ordered it to end immediately.
Even though Ravi ended the relationship, the pair couldn’t bear to be apart.
Eventually Krishna’s parents started looking for prospective husbands for her but she refused.
‘It was hard for my brother but he understood the situation,’ Sumit said.
‘Her family knew about their relationship before the marriage. They beat their daughter a lot and gave my brother warnings many times.
‘In the end my brother told her to go ahead with the marriage, she had to. She went ahead with the marriage in Haryana but she was very unhappy. They treated her like a maid.
‘So she left and returned home. And that’s when she and my brother started their relationship again.’
Ravi and Krishna had eloped twice before but had returned. Each time Sumit claimed her family beat her.
We made him understand it was dangerous. At the end of the day it’d be our family who would suffer. He understood what he was doing, he knew the risks but love took over.
‘When the girl got in touch with him he just couldn’t contain his emotions. We are now helpless. His future is ruined completely and our family is in danger.’
Krishna’s family was so furious that the couple had eloped again they told the police Ravi was involved with drugs. When they were caught in Delhi at the end of May, Ravi was arrested and has been in Meerut Jail ever since.
Meenakshi and her family were already in Delhi when a neighbour called them to tell them it’s not safe to return to their village called Baghpat, in Uttar Pradesh, 30 miles from Delhi. It has approximately 250 Dalits compared to 7,000 Jats.
Meenakshi said: ‘My father got a call from a neighbour and told us not to come back. They said that the Khap panchayat – that are all Jats – took the decision to rape my sister and me and parade us naked. They want revenge.
‘It is wrong. We did nothing wrong so why should my sister and me be punished. They loved each other and it is they who decided to go. Why should we suffer?
‘We have not left the house, as we are scared they might send someone to attack us. I am finding it very difficult to cope. I am very scared.
‘People today are still living in the caste system; it’s the root of everything here. Right now I do not have any hopes, our future is ruined.’
Culled from UK Daily Mail