Indian soldiers and rapes (Tamilnadu)

Indian Soldiers on a Rape Spree in Tamil Nadu

Usha Ramanathan

TAMIL TRIBUNE, October 1998 (ID. 1998-10-01); Minor Update: March 2003
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(Author's Note: This article was written in late May 1998. All the events referred to are from that month; we did not look into the previous months. All the events described here are reported in mainstream newspapers in Tamil Nadu.)

When an enemy army occupies conquered territory it is common to hear of soldiers raping local women with no fear of punishment. But Tamil Nadu is not a conquered territory and the Indian army is not an occupation force. Then why are Indian naval personnel, soldiers and Central Reserve Police men stationed in Tamilnadu are allowed attempted  rape of Tamil women with impunity?

A number of Central Reserve Police, Indian Army and Navy personnel are stationed in Tamil Nadu. A few Central Reserve Policemen, soldiers and naval personnel are attempting to rape local women and not a single one of them is punished. Is Tamil womanhood cheap in the eyes of the Indian government?

(Author's Note: Foreigners reading this article may wonder why all these incidents are attempted rapes and not actual rapes. This is the reason. In Tamil villages, if a neighbor is attacked, others will invariably come to help. So rapes can happen only if a woman is attacked in a secluded place away from any neighbors. If a woman is raped in such a situation secretly, in a conservative society like Tamil Nadu, the woman and her family are likely to hide it out of "shame" than report it to police. That is why we have reports of attempted rapes than actual rapes. This is our opinion.)

Here are some incidents in just one month (month of May 1998).

Attempted Rape at Daylight

According to reports, a navy man from the Rameswaram Naval Base tried to rape a local woman taking bath. She cried out. Neighbors rushed to her help and beat the navy man. Though a complaint was filed with the Indian Navy, no action was taken against him.

Attempted Rape at a Refugee Camp

Here is another incidence involving the Rameswaram Naval Base again. Five drunken navy men, including an officer of the rank of Lieutenant Commander, went to a nearby refugee camp to rape the women there. A brave watchman, named Kannan, tried to stop them at the gate. The navy men beat the watchman. The Deputy Collector in charge of the camp, named Ramakrishnan, came to inquire what was happening. The navy men attacked him also. As more people came to see what was happening, the scared navy men retreated and left the camp. Though a complaint was filed with local police, not a single one of the five culprits was punished. According to a news report in May 2008, much of navy men at the Rameswaram Naval Base are from northern India. Most of them do not know Tamil and some cannot speak English either.

Attempted Rape at Night

A Central Reserve Police check point is located in Vedaranyam, with 9 central reserve policemen posted there. One of them named Ramkishan (it seems to be a Hindi name) went to the house of a local resident, Mr. Pakkiri Swamy, at night when he was away and tried to rape his wife. She shouted for help. Villagers from nearby houses came and chased him away. Soon he returned with eight other central reserve policemen carrying guns and threatened the villagers. Next day the villagers complained to the local politician and Tamil Nadu police. The matter was taken up with the Central Reserve Police. Ramkishan and the 8 other policemen were transferred to another area. None of them was punished.

If the Indian government cannot stop the soldiers, central reserve policemen and navy men from attempting to rape our women, Tamil Nadu state government should ask the Indian government to close down all army, navy, air force and central reserve police bases in Tamil Nadu. If the Indian government believes that such bases in Tamil Nadu are absolutely, positively necessary for the security of India, it should always give permission to Tamil Nadu police to enter the bases as soon as a crime is reported, question, investigate and prosecute soldiers, central police and navy men in local state courts. It did not happen in any of the incidents discussed in this article.

(NOTE: The name Rameshwaram is sometimes spelled as Rameswaram, Rameshvaram and Ramesvaram. They denote the same place.)

RELATED ARTICLE

Are Indian Soldiers above the Law in Tamil Nadu? (by Usha Ramanathan), TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 1998).

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