For 19-year-old Girija who hails from Sakkavayal village in Sivaganga district, Wednesday night was like any other. She was waiting anxiously for her alcoholic father to return. Several times in the past, he had attempted to sexually harass her within their home and the only shield against this abuse was her 65-year-old grandmother Devi. That night however, matters escalated further than ever before.
When 47-year-old Veerasamy came home he allegedly attempted to sexually abuse the young woman. When Devi attempted to intervene once again, she was pushed away by her inebriated son. Veerasamy, then proceeded to attack his daughter with a wooden log for resisting him and then continued to make advances. “My grandmother was unable to watch the assault any longer,” says Girija. “She didn’t know what to do. So she picked up a sickle and hacked my father to death. We really did not know what else to do,” she laments. Soon after the incident, Devi* was picked up by officers from the local station and slapped with murder charges under section 304 of the Indian Penal code for killing her own son. As this elderly woman remains confined in jail, her granddaughter asks, “What wrong did my grandmother do? All she wanted was to protect me.” “Yes, we may feel that this situation warrants for the accused to be let off. But the police can’t be emotional,” says one official. “We have do what the law demands,” he adds.
But as it turns out, in the neighbouring district of Madurai, it was this very same ‘law’ that came to the rescue of 43-year-old Usha Rani who murdered her husband, after he attempted to rape their daughter. On February 9, 2012, Usha came back home from work to witness her estranged husband Jothibasu molesting their teenage daughter. Overcome by rage, the mother of four children grabbed a cricket bat and bludgeoned the drunk man to death. She then surrendered to the police and confessed that the crime was committed in a desperate attempt to save her daughter. She was arrested immediately and would have been forced to face a long trial, if not for the timely intervention of the then Madurai’s Superintendent of Police. In Usha Rani’s case, the SP invoked section 100 of the Indian Penal Code and released her. As per the section, if a death is caused in the process of ‘Private defence’ (to prevent or escape rape or murder), the person need not be tried for murder.
Will ‘Private Defence’ apply in Devi’s case? “I cannot comment on this case as I do not know the particulars of it. In Usha Rani’s case, I remember starkly that she had left her husband before due to this unacceptable behaviour. There was even a panchayat hearing and a mediation that followed,” explains Garg. There were also complaints against Jothibasu in many police stations stating that he harassed the family members. But as it turns out Veerasamy’s family too has a list of allegations and proof of his sexual advances.
And that was not all. “My father has been harassing me for the last seven years. He is a drunk and has taken loans from all over the village. Even now, we are in a relative’s house because money lenders are outside ours. We are surviving on my grandmother’s widow pension. Now, she is in jail and we just don’t know what we will do,” cries the 19-year-old, whose mother had left the family, many years ago. Girija and her seven-year-old brother are terrified. Their future now uncertain with the woman who had protected them, no longer at their side.
Source: The news minute