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Family Members Who Defend their Women from Harassment Are Getting Murdered

In the latest case in India, a man was shot in the head after he filed a complaint against the killer for sexually harassing his niece.
23 July 2020, 1:15pm
India violence crimes against women
Vikram Joshi's family allege that the police ignored his complaints multiple times before he was shot dead in front of his daughters. Photo courtesy ofPixabay

A journalist was shot dead in the North Indian city of Ghaziabad by nine men after he filed a police complaint against some of them for harassing his 17-year-old niece.

The police of Uttar Pradesh (UP)—within which Ghaziabad falls—refused to act on Vikram Joshi’s complaint against his eventual murderers, five of whom had a criminal history.

This is not the first time that a family member of a female survivor was killed in India. Perpetrators of sexual abuse often retaliate against survivors and their families, to stop them from approaching law enforcement officials.

The most high-profile of them also happened in UP, which records the most crimes against women in the country. Kuldeep Sengar, a member of the state legislator who belonged to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, was convicted in 2019 for the rape of a minor and the murder of her father. He is also a suspect in the death of two of the girl’s aunts.

This year, similar cases made headlines. Early this week, a gang rape survivor and her mother in UP’s Kasganj district were mowed down by a tractor by the accused after they filed a rape complaint.

In yet another from UP’s Firozabad, the state’s policing was questioned when a rape survivor’s father was gunned down by the accused after a complaint was filed against him.

In this latest case, Joshi, 35, was a reporter with a regional Hindi newspaper in Ghaziabad, which borders India’s capital Delhi. He was shot on the back of his head by nine assailants while his two daughters, aged 5 and 11, watched.

The incident took place on July 20; Joshi was declared dead on July 22.

The murder was captured on CCTV. His 11-year-old daughter, who was barely 10 meters away, is seen crying and running to her father in the video.

Four days before he was shot, on July 16, Joshi had filed a police complaint against an individual identified only as Ravi, who allegedly stalked and sexually harassed his 17-year-old niece.

The complaint by Joshi said that his niece, who was buying groceries with her younger brother, was accosted by four men including Ravi. When the brother protested, the men beat the boy with sticks. The complaint also alleged that the men were drunk.

The police, however, did not convert Joshi’s complaint into a first information report (FIR) and investigate.

The complaint reportedly irked Ravi, who started threatening Joshi. Ravi reportedly turned up outside Joshi’s sister’s house, where he was visiting with his daughters, the night of the murder.

Joshi called the area’s police inspector about the threat. His family said that the inspector refused to turn up.

Joshi’s kin told Indian media an individual only identified as Chhotu threw a glass bottle outside the house and hurled abuses before shooting him.

The incident has led to nationwide outrage. Various political leaders condemned police inaction and the crime rate in the state. On July 22, a group of journalists protested outside Yashoda Hospital against their colleague’s murder.

The UP police released a list of 10 men, of which three are accused and arrested, while six have been detained. One is absconding.

Further investigation revealed that at least five of the nine men arrested for the murder have criminal records. This includes Chhotu and Ravi.

Ghaziabad police chief Kalanidhi Naithani said the accused Ravi also filed a complaint when he was allegedly beaten up by Joshi after harassing his niece. The concerned police inspector is now suspended for not paying heed to the complaint.

According to the latest data by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) from 2018, UP has the highest share of crimes against women in India: a case of rape is registered with the state police every two hours. In response, UP police told journalists that the alarming crime figures from the state are merely a reflection of its large population.

The NCRB data also highlights a rampant culture of stalking in India—with one case every 55 minutes—along with its underreporting. Additionally, even though the rate of filing charge sheets in rape-ralated cases is 85.3 percent across India, the conviction rate is only 27.2 percent.

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