• 22 Feb 2016
• Hindustan Times (Mumbai)
• Namita Kohli [email protected]
MUZAFFARNAGAR : In Muzaffarnagar’s Kailawada village, outside the house of the Chaudharys, a small door in vibrant green opens into an expansive courtyard. The men step out, and stare at us with a mix of apprehension and suspicion. A little over a month ago, after a video of their daughter Rani being raped went viral in the village and beyond, the family registered an FIR alleging rape and blackmail by local youth.
Rani’s case is one of at least three such recent incidents in the past two months involving Hindu women and Muslim men in the district that were used in the BJP’s election campaign for the bypolls held on February 13.
On Tuesday when the results were out, the BJP emerged victorious.
In a district where memories of the 2013 riots — set off by an incident of “eve-teasing” involving a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy — are still fresh, these incidents provided fresh impetus to BJP’s election campaign, centered on protecting the “honour of the women”. This campaign, many believe, may have repercussions on assembly polls in the state next year.
Back in Kailawada, Rani says that before filming the video, the two accused took her to a hotel, “drugged her” and asked her to pretend as if she was “enjoying it”, or they would kill her brother. They then blackmailed her for money for a couple of years, before releasing the video last month.