After posting my blog about Manu Sharma and the murder of Jessica Lall last month, I was hoping that I won’t be writing anything like this ever, definitely not in near future. But as 2009 hurtles towards the end, the judgement in Ruchika Girhotra’s 19 year old case rocked the nation. I watched the news on TV. It was sickening to see a smug and smiling S.P.S. Rathore, who molested Ruchika in 1990, emerging from the CBI courtroom after being sentenced by the court for 6 months. He was granted bail immediately. Why was he smiling? Was he celebrating his light punishment or was he showing the world that look, no one can do anything to a powerful man. In a way his smile conveyed his true feelings that after fighting for so long and after facing all kind of humiliation, Girhotras got nothing. So wasn’t all brouhaha futile? His swagger and smile conveyed his lack of respect for the rule of law also. It conveyed and confirmed his scant regard for propriety in public life. This shameless creature forgot that once upon a time, he was holding a post that is perceived as a protector of law and order. His immediate release on bail is like rubbing salt to wounds. More curious and painful is the smile of his wife, who is a practicing lawyer. She has a daughter too. What message are they conveying to their daughter?
Let us have a look at the case history. Ruchika Girhotra was a budding tennis player and wanted to make it big in life. S.P.S. Rathore was already big in life and at that point of time he was a police officer, who later on rose to become Director General of Police in Haryana. In 1990 he was president of the Lawn Tennis Association of Haryana. He called Ruchika in his office and allegedly molested her. Luckily her friend, another budding tennis player Aradhana, walked in just in time and thus Ruchika was saved. She and her family ran from pillar to post for justice but in vain. They met the then chief minister Hukum Singh of Janata Dal, who sought report from the then DGP Haryana R. R. Singh. Subsequently DGP recommended that FIR should be lodged against Rathore. The then home secretary J. K. Duggal also gave his consent but curiously Hukum Singh turned it down and ordered departmental inquiry instead. Nothing happened and barring Aradhana and her family no one stood for Girhotras in those dark days.
After securing his position and post, Rathore started intimidating the family. His tale of vendetta is long and frightening. Policemen in civvies were deployed around her house. Goons were put into service and they followed Ruchika everywhere and harassed her. They abused the family and pelted stones at their residence. Not only this, she was even thrown out of her Sacred Heart school allegedly at the behest of Rathore. Though the school now claims that she was expelled because of non-payment of fee. To pressurize her further to withdraw the case, her brother Ashu was implicated in seven cases of car theft and robbery. He was handcuffed and was kept in police custody for two months. He was subjected to third degree torture and that too in the presence of Rathore. Instead of water he was given urine to drink. He was paraded half naked in the vicinity of his house. This all happened for three continuous years. Unable to bear humiliation, hurt, and a feeling of guilt that she is responsible for the suffering and misfortune of her family, Ruchika ended her life by consuming poison. When her father tried to take her to a nearby hospital, policemen posted outside the house threatened him and told him to take her to the PGI Chandigarh. Ruchika was admitted and next day she died. After her death, Panchkula police did not hand over her body to her father Mr. Girhotra, though he was begging and even touched their feet. He was crying and was sitting outside the mortuary throughout the day but in vain. Ruchika’s postmortem report was also doctored and tampered with. Police produced a lady named Veena, who signed the papers and gave statements that no one is responsible for Ruchika’s death. She signed the papers claiming that she is Ruchika’s mother. Later on it came to light that Veena was just a governess and Ruchika’s biological mother died in 1986, seven years before Ruchika was molested. After signing the papers and giving her statement to police, Veena left the country and is now settled abroad. Isn’t it sounding fishy?
One year after Ruchika’s death, the then Congress government of Haryana, headed by Bhajan Lal, closed the departmental inquiry against Rathore and promoted him to ADGP. Matter dragged on for years and again in 1999 Rathore was promoted to the rank of Director General of Police during the tenure of Bansi Lal of Haryana Vikas Party. He was successful in intimidating Ruchika’s family and they had to run to Himachal Pradesh to avoid his fury. Thanks to the help and support of Aradhana’s family, Rathore was finally booked in 2000. 10 years after the molestation and 7 years after Ruchika’s suicide, CBI registered FIR on direction of Supreme Court.
But Rathore, emboldened by the political patronage and his new found position, started hampering the case. He tried to bribe the CBI officer, who was investigating the case. When he refused to buckle, Rathore complained to the higher authorities of CBI and got him transferred. Meanwhile Om Prakash Chautala became the chief minister and he recommended Rathore’s name for President’s Police Medal and appointed him as the Director General of Police. Rathore retired in 2002 and only then, in 2003 charges against Rathore were framed in the court.
I gave a long history of the case so that the readers can understand the trials and tribulations of Girhotra family and sympathize with them fully. It is necessary to raise your voice for Ruchika. It is important to stand up for Ruchika, who was only 14 when she was molested. It is our duty to put pressure on the government. Yesterday it was Ruchika, tomorrow it could be any one, even our daughters. It is a fight against the system. It is a fight for a qualitative change in our society. And remember, culprits are mighty and many. Police officers – who aided and abetted the crime; politicians – who shielded and patronized Rathore; Ruchika’s alma mater and teachers – who instead of protecting her, sided with her all powerful, mighty opponent; all are equally responsible and guilty. Today blame game has started. Everyone is trying hard to prove that they are not the party in this crime, that they are innocent.
I am not sad. I am angry. And my anger is directed towards me. How such things happen for 19 years and no outcry was visible or heard? Whom else can you blame but for yourself? Police can stoop to any level. I have absolutely no faith in them. But what about Ruchika’s school? How can an alma mater abandon its student? And what about the politicians? They are supposed to be our representatives. Yet in this case they sided with the molester cop. No party is innocent. Hukum Singh belonged to Janata Dal, Bhajan Lal belonged to Congress, Bansi Lal belonged to Haryana Vikas Party and Om Prakash Chautala belonged to Indian National Lok Dal. All are partners in the crime. Even courts faulted. This case is crystal clear. Why can’t these learned judges see what an ordinary citizen is easily understanding? Can you justify mere six months imprisonment and 1000.00 fine for this molester cop? Judge says that considering Rathore’s age leniency should be shown. The sympathy and pathos he felt for molester Rathore, why can’t he feel the same for 14 year old Ruchika? Is there again something fishy? After the judgement was pronounced and he was granted bail, Ruchika’s father got an anonymous call. Caller said sarcastically, “ Ab kya kar liya?” Now I can understand the true meaning of smile and smirk on the abominable faces of Rathore and his wife.
My gratitude goes to media and vigilant public. The way they took this issue and built pressure on the ruling oligarchy, is exemplary. After procrastination of 19 years and callously sleeping over the case, the ruling oligarchy is showing some resolve to review the case and to pursue it to its logical conclusion. Fresh FIRs are being filed and process of stripping Rathore of his medals has been started. Fresh inquiries are being launched against Rathore and his accomplices and the Sacred Heart School also. Rathore’s arrest is imminent and he may lose his retirement benefits also. Because of these new developments, the infamous smile of Rathore is gone. A grim looking Rathore rushed to court for anticipatory bail, but failed to get it.
On this new year eve when I am writing this blog, I am taking few new year resolutions :
1- That I shall always stand firmly for such victims without fear.
2- That I shall always be with my students in their trials and tribulations. I shall never, ever behave like the principal of Sacred Heart School of Chandigarh.
May God give me courage to accomplish my resolution and may God’s curse be on you Rathore.