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Champa Biswas Case - Justice, in parts

Champa Biswas Case - Justice, in parts

Author: Kanhaiah Bhelari
Publication: The Week
Date: March 24, 2002
URL: http://www.the-week.com/22mar24/events3.htm

Mritunjay convicted but rape victim plans to move High Court

The most infamous mother-son duo of Bihar has been  shown their place but Champa Biswas is far from happy. The Patna district and sessions court recently sentenced Mritunjay Yadav alias Bablu Yadav to 10 years rigorous imprisonment for raping Champa, wife of senior IAS officer B.B. Biswas of the Jharkhand cadre. Bablu's mother Hemlata, a former MLA of the ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal and co-accused in the case, was let off taking into account the three years she spent in jail pending trial. The special public prosecutor had asked the court to take a lenient view in Hemlata's case.

"Hemlata should also have been punished," Champa, 31, told The Week. "She is as guilty as Mritunjay. She encouraged him to rape me."

Champa was sore that no action has been taken against RJD leader Laloo Prasad Yadav, who she claims also raped her. In February 2000, she had told the court that Laloo was one of the several political bigwigs who raped her between 1995 and 1997. Champa is planning to move High Court against the verdict. Opposition leader Sushil Kumar Modi suggested that it was now up to the women's organisations to take up the case against Laloo.

Champa had charged Laloo with rape even in her letter to the National Human Rights Commission. "The police recorded my statement in 22 pages," she said. "But only some parts of the statement were produced in court." She claimed that it was Hemlata, then chairman of the state Women's Welfare Board, who took her to Laloo. Interestingly, Mritunjay had penned Laloo's biography, which brought the family even closer to the RJD chief.

Champa's ordeal started on September 7, 1995, soon after her family moved to an apartment complex at Hartali Chauk in Patna, where Hemlata and Mritunjay also lived. She was first raped in the servants' quarters of the complex, where she was lured with the promise of getting domestic help. Mritunjay was apparently waiting for her in the quarters and once she was in, the people who had brought her thereÑone Jugal Kishore Gupta and his wife ReetaÑlocked the door from outside.

Mritunjay continued to torture her over the next two years and even compelled her to have sex with his friends. Champa suffered in silence, fearing for her family and her own honour. Mritunjay had even taken nude photos of her while she was unconscious. According to a complaint filed by her at the Kotwali police station on August 24, 1997, Mritunjay had raped her ageing mother, sister Reha, niece Kalyani and maid Shefali Basu. Champa had to undergo abortion, and, to prevent further pregnancies, she went in for sterilisation as well.

Champa's plight came to light the day her sons saw 'Bablu uncle' 'hurting' their mother. Biswas was horrified and helpless when he heard about it. He first reported the matter to the home secretary and director-general of police but no action was taken. "Hemlata threatened to kill me if I pursued the case," he said. The family shifted to Delhi in fear and changed houses more than 20 times.

In Delhi, Biswas made Champa write to the National Human Rights Commission, the SC/ST Commission and to Bihar Governor S.S. Bhandari. The incident got wide publicity when Modi reveled it at a press conference in 1998.

Bhandari had then written to the Union home ministry suggesting that the case be handed over to the CBI. In February 2000, Governor Vinod Chandra Pandey had also requested a CBI inquiry. Champa apparently wanted a Supreme Court judge to investigate the matter. In the event, Mritunjay was proven guilty even without a CBI probe.

The trial was relatively smooth despite some setbacks. First, Shefali, Reeta and Mritunjay's accomplice Awadh Kishore Sinha, who took tuition for Champa's children, went missing. Then Kalyani Biswas, a key prosecution witness, died in mysterious circumstances. Surprisingly, the Patna Police did not even register a case regarding the death.

"Whatever punishment Mritunjay gets will not match the suffering I had to undergo," Champa had told The Week in 1998. "I feel that I will get justice one day." Now, after the verdict, she is determined to get full justice. Mritunjay's conviction will be her elixir in the tough journey ahead.

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