It has been over five months since 40-year-old Kavita filed a complaint against members of the Haryana Police, accusing them of raping her daughter, who was 17 years old at the time, in police custody. The young woman faces charges of involvement in the murder of two police officials, and has been held in state custody since July, first in Karnal jail and then at a juvenile observation home. While the police are yet to take any action against the rape accused, the Haryana judiciary has twice denied bail to the young woman. A juvenile justice board and a district court both denied bail claiming that releasing the young woman to her parents would expose her to “moral danger.”
Kavita, a Dalit woman from Butana village in Sonipat district, said that her daughter sustained severe physical injuries and mental trauma because of the gang rape. “If they only let her out on bail, I can look after her and make her feel safe,” Kavita said. “God knows how they treat her in that jail.” Despite being a minor at the time of the incident, Kavita’s daughter was lodged in Haryana’s Karnal jail from 6 July until late September, along with her 20-year-old cousin. The 17-year-old was later shifted to an observation home in Karnal.
On 18 July, while the minor was still in Karnal jail, Kavita visited her. Kavita recalled it vividly. She told me that her daughter leaned against the wall for support and was hunched over because it was too painful to stand up straight. “Her arms were covered in bruises. Whatever part of her bare skin I could see looked blue,” Kavita said. She had gone to the jail three days prior to this meeting, on 15 July, and the jail officials had informed Kavita that her daughter had been sent for a medical check-up. “They didn’t tell me why she was sick or injured or what had happened to her. They just told me to come back later,” Kavita said. On the morning of 18 July, Kavita’s daughter told her what had occurred earlier that month, between 2 and 6 July, while she and her 20-year-old cousin had been in police custody.