After the news of her death reached us, my husband, Mahendra Ram (a primary school teacher), lodged a First Information Report (FIR) stating that Delta had on the previous night informed him of being raped by the PT Teacher (Vijender Singh) of the Institute and that the Principal (Priya Shukla) and the Warden (Pragya Shukla) of the Institute acted in collusion.
After fighting for justice for my daughter for more than 5 years, the trial court (Special Court POCSO Act, Bikaner) has given a judgment in our favor, as it held all three accused guilty under various provisions of the law.
In the last 5 years, we have lost everything:
Our beloved daughter, Delta. Our savings, our ancestral land, our independence, as we had to manage expenses and take loans from local moneylenders, for the legal battle.
Now, I seek community support to continue the legal battle at the higher courts.
About Delta Meghwal
My daughter, Delta Meghwal, was an ambitious young student from the Trimohi village, close to the Indo-Pak border, in the Barmer district of Rajasthan. She was the first girl from her village to pursue higher studies.
She was creative, often expressing it through her paintings. At the young age of 8 her painting, won the state-level competition and has been displayed at the Rajasthan Secretariat. In 2014, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan even issued an appreciation letter for Delta.
Delta was always found leading in the independence-day and republic day parades and representing her school. She aspired to be like her father and become a teacher.
As Mahendra ji, her father, beautifully summarizes: “Just like a river that gets distributed into different streams, leaving beautiful patterns in the earth, Delta was named because of her multi-talented persona”.
In 2015, Delta had left Barmer to study at Jain Adarsh Teacher Training Institute, Bikaner, which is approximately 500 km from Trimohi village, Barmer. During her second year of studies, one night she called her father to tell him that she had been raped by the PT Teacher at the institute. Before her father could reach the institute, she was found dead in a water tank of her Institute on March 29, 2016. The Institute administration did not inform us about the death of Delta. It was only later that the Police called her father informing him about the death of our daughter.
On her father's complaint, the police registered a case against the PT Teacher, the Principal, and the Warden of the Institute.
There were several attempts by different people to cover-up Delta’s death. The Institute officially started blaming and doing character assasination of my daughter, and said that she consented in a sexual relationship with the PT Teacher. We have been subjected to such victim blaming and shaming comments for the last five years. The accused were of upper castes, as a result of which we faced threats and socio-political pressure to remain silent.
The media did not report about case and even behaved with us in an insensitive way. A certain correspondent for a TV news channel in Barmer city called us, and asked to shoot a video of us grieving, and send it on WhatsApp because he could not travel 90 kilometres from Barmer city to our village. We had to organize several demonstrations to raise demand of justice for our daughter.
The Court Judgment
On 12th October 2021, the Special Court POCSO Act, Bikaner held all accused guilty. The PT Teacher, the main accused, has been convicted of rape (S. 376 Indian Penal Code "IPC"), abetment to suicide (S. 305 IPC), kidnapping (S. 363 IPC), and aggravated sexual assault under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, and the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. He has been sentenced to life imprisonment. The warden and the principal have been convicted of abetment to suicide and sentenced to six-years' imprisonment each for criminal misconduct of not reporting the incident of rape and avoiding institutional responsibility (Sections 19 and 21) under POCSO Act. A fine of 10,000 each has been imposed on the convicts.
This judgment gives some justice to my family. As Mahendra ji says, “Justice was long due, finally it's delivered. Every day I would take a pledge that I will not die until my daughter's culprits are behind the bars.”
Our Emotional & Financial Struggle
We had a hard time in fighting this case. The government only provided us a compensation of mere Rs. 90,000 initially (UPDATE: Rs. 4,30,000 total by now). But, we spent much more money in fighting this case. Since we were concerned for our safety, as we faced immense pressure from upper castes, my husband would never travel alone to Bikaner for court proceedings, and would travel in a hired taxi with 4-5 people from our village. The return trip from Trimohi (Barmer) to Bikaner court was around 970 kilometres. As Mahendra ji noted, “I must have made around a hundred trips to Bikaner... I couldn’t take public transport for the fear that the accused would harm me… I would hire a private cab and travel with some well-wishers. It would cost me Rs 15,000. I must have made around a hundred trips to Bikaner. You can do the math.” We also had to pay for the expenses incurred during demonstrations, which we had to organize for a fair investigation in our case. My husband also travelled several times to Jaipur and Jodhpur to meet the government officials.
To manage these expenses, we first took a loan from a bank. When that didn’t work, we sold our ancestral land. Even that wasn’t enough; we had to borrow more money and this time we went to the local moneylender, who charges a hefty interest. Because of this, we are under a lot of debt. We have received little support.
The Battle Ahead
Our family is depleted of all resources and requires community support and financial aid to repay our debt and to carry on the court litigation, as the convicts are going to file an appeal before the High Court.
I therefore seek your support in continuing with this fight.
I am being supported by some well-wishers in raising this crowdsource request. If you wish to personally reach out to my family, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your details.