War and riots can be profiteering for the big opportunists. The burning of Haryana has proved this. While the state was still burning in the fire of reservation riots, a mob looted cars on the highway and molested the women passengers.
The Tribune, a news daily, reported that around 30 men torched vehicles in Murthal, a small town located on National Highway 1. The women who failed to escape from the cars, were stripped and then raped in the nearby wheat fields. The daily quoted eyewitnesses who did not want to be identified.
As the news spread, several conflicting views arose. A probe has been ordered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on the alleged crime. While top cops and state officials scuttled around looking for the authenticity of the report, members of the National Commission of Women (NCW) started probing the matter.
While the judiciary’s immediate interest is laudable, there is still a lingering doubt whether the state-sponsored investigations are really reliable or not. The news report claimed that most of the rape victims were rescued villagers from the nearby areas of Hassanpur and Kurad. The alleged victims were sheltered at two nearby dhabas (eateries).
Amrik Singh, the owner of the popular Amrik Singh Dhaba in Murthal, has negated the report, saying although he offered shelters to people whose vehicles were torched by the mob, he didn’t know of any sexually-assaulted women. People from the three nearby villages have also negated that any such incident took place in the vicinity.
In a new twist, people are now claiming that the mob did not molest women passengers, but did hit them, and the scared victims hid in the fields to save themselves. The view is that the violence might have given rise to the rape rumours.
But the question still remains, what kind of cowards hold innocent and unassuming women hostage and then hit them with sticks for “daring” to ride the road? For all we know, the 30 people might have no allegiance to the Jat quota reservation stir that has been rocking the state for the past 10 days. And supposedly they were agitating for the reservation, how would harassing passengers and torching their cars help them in gaining the OBC quota!
Atrocities against women during riots are the most common thing. The goons might have just created mayhem, looted and then outraged the modesty of the women. It would not be surprising if tomorrow, we see women from Delhi-NCR coming forward to tell their harrowing tales.
It is quite unlikely that a reputed daily will create a report on rape just out of the thin air. The investigations are on, and we can only wait and watch for the turn of events in the near future.