Mahadalit Girl Dika Kumari Harassed, Raped and Killed in Hajipur Bihar! Bihar Government Remains Unmoved!!
Put an End to Killing Dalit Dreams of Education and Dignity! Resist Cover-ups and State Shielding of This Casteist-Patriarchal Cohort!! Ensure High Level Probe into the Conditions of Dalit Hostels across Bihar!!
Demanding Justice for Dika,
Join Protest Demonstration at Bihar Bhawan
27th January (Friday) at 2pm
“I work in the fields with a trowel and a sickle. But I wanted my daughter to study. I’m uneducated and poor but that did not stop my daughter Dika and I from dreaming of a future with dignity. That dream has been snatched from us. All I want is justice. I demand justice so that no other mother should be robbed so cruelly of her daughter.”
– Kusmi Devi, Dika Kumari’s mother
On the early hours of 7 January, Dika Kumari was battered, brutally raped and killed, her dead body thrown in a drain near her hostel in the premises of the Ambedkar Residential Girls’ School in Hajipur (Vaishali). Dika, 16 years of age, daughter of Kusmi Devi, an agricultural labourer from Bihar’s most oppressed Mahadalit Musahar community, was studying in the Ambedkar School, one of the schools run by the Bihar Government for Dalits. For Dika and her mother, their hopes for a dignified future laid in Dika’s education. Today those dreams stand shattered as Kusmi Devi tries to courageously muster all her strength to rage for justice for her daughter.
What is further disturbing and horrifying is that this happened a day after Dika’s mother had unsuccessfully tried to bring her back home after Dika told her mother that her teachers were pushing her to do “bad things” with them in return for “good marks”. Her attempts to take her daughter back on hearing the complaint were met by the hostel officials pushing her out of the premises! The same authorities did not even deem it necessary to inform her the next morning that her daughter was no more! Kusmi and her family rushed to the hostel after getting the news, to find Dika’s body lying in a gutter. Dika was sexually assaulted and brutally killed.
The police has been refusing to acknowledge sexual violence. Till now no rape charges have been filed and no POCSO guidelines have been invoked despite the fact that Dika was a minor girl and her body carried marks of violent sexual assault. The entire incident makes clear the conditions inside such schools – conditions in which the students and their parents are not seen as deserving of dignity or rights. Dika was killed to cover up sexual harassment and the Bihar police authorities are hushing up the matter.
Dika’s murder exposes the claims of the so-called messiahs of social justice and women empowerment in Bihar. The fact that Dika’s tortuous death has taken place within hostel premises cries for an immediate probe in the functioning of these spaces and calls for bringing the guilty to the book. Far from realising the gravity of the situation reflected in all the girl students vacating the hostel, the government’s response has still been of criminal apathy and silence. They haven’t even prompted a thorough and impartial probe into the state of Ambedkar schools and hostels in Bihar. The Central Government Minister Ram Vilas Paswan himself, too is yet to speak on the murder.
A few months back a Dalit boy in Muzzafarpur was tortured and brutally thrashed by upper caste boys. The violence occurred on the premises of the Kendriya Vidyalaya The Muzzafarpur incident is proof that even when a Dalit student manages to get into the Kendriya Vidyalaya hostels, there is no safety or surety against caste violence. This conveys to the oppressed communities that educational spaces are not for them or that the dreams that education may have the potential to realise will come at the cost of dignity and life. Dalit students have for long been raising demands for basic human dignity in these schools, without any response from the Nitish-Lalu Government.
Massive protests are happening all across Bihar demanding justice for Dika under the banner of AISA and AIPWA. Kajal, a young girl from the same school along with her friends and Dika’s mother are at the forefront of a sustained struggle for justice. Today, we must come out and demand justice for Dika and also ask the Bihar Government as to why it choses to abet the killers by shielding them. Dika’s classmates and hostel mates have been speaking out against the horrible conditions and casteism rampant in the school.
Why is it that the Dalit boys and girls become easy targets of not just governmental apathy but also of caste violence as was also seen when Dalit boys in their hostels in Bhojpur were subjected to arson and vandalism by the Ranveer Sena following the death of Ranveer Sena chief Brahmeshwar Singh!
We strongly demand a thorough investigation into the conditions of residential schools for children coming from poor and oppressed backgrounds and especially girls. Not just in Bihar, Dikas and Deltas are killed, assaulted and discriminated against in Dalit hostels in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and all over.
AISA demands that CM of Bihar immediately order a high-level inquiry into the murder of Dika and also into the state of residential schools and hostels for Dalit students in the state. Additionally, strict action must be taken against not only those who tortured, sexually assaulted and murdered Dika, but also against those in positions of authorities who participated in or remained mute spectators to the everyday harassment of Dika and several other girls in the residential school.