USHA SAXENA writes a letter to Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit:
My daughter Shambhavi and I and a colleague of mine Reema Ganguly went to Jantar Mantar today 25th Dec to take part in a peaceful gathering there against the gang-rape.
At around 4pm two girls came running up to us in tears and said that the police had dragged away 2 of their female friends to Parliament Street Police Station and they asked us to help bring them back. The three of us joined 9 other women and we went to the police station. When we reached there we only saw male constables. We demanded to talk to a female senior officer and said that the 3 women must be released immediately. The policemen very rudely and aggressively tried to chase us out. We refused to leave without those 3 women and so one male cop ordered some female cops standing in the courtyard to come in and arrest all of us.
All of us linked our arms and were being dragged away when I saw a female constable dragging a girl by her hair. My daughter Shambhavi ran to help her and before my eyes I saw a male cop and a female cop pulling my daughter’s hair and hitting her head against a wall I managed to extricate myself and ran towards the 2 young girls to protect them and we managed to get them away…we were then pushed into a small room where we found 4 other women detained earlier – they also recounted how they were slapped and their clothes torn while they were dragged here.
We were kept in that room for 3 hours with no reason being given and finally some woman from an NGO Deepjyoti she said came and said she will get us out if we apologise. We refused and when asked for our names and addresses and phone numbers we all collectively decided only to give other names because we were terrified of what the police would do with our contact information … the three of us – my daughter, my colleague and I gave our names as Divya, Geeta and Aastha.
While we were just about to leave, some cops came rushing out and demanded to know who ‘Shambhavi’ was, because some Shambhavi was informing the media that we were beaten up and detained (my daughter had been tweeting all that was happening) Terrified of what they would do to her, we pulled together and rushed out of there.
We reached home, terrified and hurting all over and now suddenly at 10.24pm, I receive a call from 01123361100 where a man said he was from the same NGO and if Shambhavi did not come and apologise to the SHO at Parliament Street, they would file an FIR against us and come and arrest us in the night itself.
Ma’am, please help.
A terrified mother,
While Shambhavi was tweeting, a major disinformation campaign on Twitter portrayed her as a liar who was cooking up these tweets. The disinformation campaign seems to have succeeded to the extent that this morning, the Calcutta Telegraph (which is not circulated in Delhi) was the only paper to have reported the incident along with her plight:
Shambhavi, whose tweets perhaps led to their release, recounted their experience after the cops realised the matter was out in the media. “They called us names, threatened us and beat us up,” she told The Telegraph just after she had been let off.
“We don’t know what we did. We were all girls, peacefully protesting. They didn’t even have the decency to tell us what they were picking us up for. They told us not to tell anyone once we were outside what happened with us.”
A 16-year-old, one of those detained, said their mobile phones were taken away. “They took down our names and addresses and even the contact details of our fathers, giving us a veiled threat that if we opened our mouths, they would do more than just slap us around,” said the girl who had bruises on her face and shivered in the winter evening chill as she stood outside the police station after being released.
One woman constable, she said, told them “yahan law nahi chalta (the law doesn’t work here)”.
Among those detained was another 16-year-old who had been protesting against the bus gang rape for the past three days and whose parents are currently out of Delhi.
“I have been coming here every day. Never have I been violent. I don’t know why this happened to us. They wouldn’t even tell us why they were treating us like this. Some of the parents who had turned up to take their kids were threatened with dire consequences if they allowed their daughters to be at any protest from now on,” she said.
Shambhavi, a student of Lady Shri Ram College for Women, is a volunteer activist with Greenpeace India and describes herself as a wildlife lover on her Facebook page. [Full story]
The allegation that she was lying is still being made by some on Twitter. For instance they are asking: How did she have the time to tweet when police was slamming her head on the wall? Well, she did so much after, while being in illegal detention. The doubters believe the police that while women had been detained, Shambhavi was not one of them. Well, Shambhavi’s name is not on police records because as her mother says, they deliberately gave false names.
I just spoke to Shambhavi and her mother Usha, who said they are willing to go to any extent to prove their allegations, that the disinformation campaign against her daughter is unsurprising, that the police and the government want to create these controversies to divert attention from the issue of women’s safety in the city.
You can see Shambhavi’s tweets on her Twitter TL, but here are screenshots (start reading from the last tweet upwards).
More from Kafila:
- Bakht Arif, from Pakistan, sings Zinda Lash for Patronizing Indian Politicians (No, Don’t Listen to Honey Singh)
- How Delhi police assaulted my daughter on 25 December: Usha Saxena
- An ‘I Witness’ Account of Delhi Police and RAF Violence at India Gate on 23 December: Sangeeta Das
- Armed Forces Special Powers Act provides impunity for rape: Warisha Farasat
- Stop Shielding Criminals in the Army and Security Forces in Assam: Bondita and Anjuman
- Play Haze Kay not Honey Singh: Music from Kashmir against Rape for Delhi
- Rape is allowed because most people don’t know what it is: Anonymous
- Sexual Violence and Sexuality Education – The Missing Link: Ketaki Chowkhani
- Misogyny, Politics and Zombiedom: From Sonia Gandhi to Botsa Satyanarayana
- How the God of Death Changed His Mind: Images from the Protest Against Rape at Jantar Mantar
- This is to clarify a small misunderstanding: Anusha Rizvi
- How not to think about violence against women: Noopur Tiwari
- Statement by women’s and progressive groups and individuals condemning sexual violence and opposing death penalty