“One of his allies pointed the gun at Papa and shot point blank on his head”

In 2021, Hathras is still no place for women. For 2 months, Gaurav Sharma kept asking me to marry him–he used to live nearby but I barely knew him. He was infamous for being a goon in our area, so I rejected his proposal. Little did I know that a simple ‘no’ would make my life a living hell.

2 months later, he barged into my house, grabbed me by my waist, twisted my hands and said, ‘shaadi karle warna uthake le jaunga’.

My parents rushed in just in time to stop him from forcefully undressing me. Papa yelled, ‘chodenge nahi saale ko’ and filed a complaint with the police immediately. But Gaurav Sharma was barely locked up for 14 days–even before I could recover from the shock, he used his political connections to get out on bail.

The very next day, he came back to our village and made an announcement publicly, ‘If Ambrish Sharma doesn’t withdraw the case, I’ll kill his entire family.’

Terrified, I begged the police to give us protection, but they recklessly said, ‘Kuch hone do, uske baad dekh lenge’. Another cop even warned us to back down, ‘They are bigshots, don’t even think of clashing with them’.

Over time, our family was alienated from the rest of the village–our neighbours would say, ‘Ladki ke baap ko sar jhukana hi padta hai’. They broke all ties with us fearing that even they could be targeted by these gundas.

I often thought of dropping all charges against Gaurav, but Papa would bravely ask–‘How can he get away with molesting somebody’s daughter? Today, it’s you...tomorrow, it could be someone else!’

For 2 years, I had to confine myself to 4 walls–Gaurav would drop by at least 7-8 times a month to threaten my father. This once, Gaurav chased Papa down our farm with a gun for half an hour and kept yelling, ‘Case wapas le le warna sachme maar dunga.’

When I think of it now, I wonder how Papa managed to stay so strong when all the odds were against us–he'd just say, ‘If you are the father of a daughter, you must be brave.’ But Gaurav made me regret being born–he followed me around everywhere trying to intimidate me into marrying him. He’d send his men to threaten Papa– 'We'll ruin your daughter’s life’, they’d say.

For 2 long years, we lived with the fear of being murdered. We asked for our basic right– protection; it was denied. They said, ‘call us only after something happens’ and it did; the worst possible thing happened and not one person came forward to help us.That day, I’d gotten out of my house only to go to the temple. But when I arrived, Gaurav’s newly-wed wife and his Masi were there. They started hurling abuses– ‘kaisi kaisi ladkiyan hoti hai’, ‘Bhench*d hai iska khandan!’ They even clicked my photos without permission.

I ran away from there and rushed to Papa; he was at our farm, working. I sobbed and told him what had happened. Just then, Gaurav called Papa–‘I’m coming in an hour to give you an ultimatum,’ he threatened.

Such warnings weren’t new to us. I knew the police would do nothing, still, I called and begged for protection. ‘I’m busy. Call 112 if something happens’, the cop said and disconnected the call.That afternoon, around 3.30pm, as Maa-Papa and I were about to have lunch at the farm, Papa spotted Gaurav Sharma and 5 of his friends driving towards us.

After a brief argument, Gaurav held Papa by his neck and said, ‘Ab tumhara time aa gaya hai!’

Everything happened so quickly after that; I still can’t process it. The 6 of them hounded us from all sides and took their pistols out; Maa and I froze as they fired in the air.

Before we could react, one of Gaurav’s allies pointed the gun at Papa and shot point blank on his head. Within the next 30 seconds, 5 more shots were fired at him–Papa fell to the ground. After, they pushed Ma and fled in their car.

I screamed for help, but there was nobody around. Those who worked with Papa ran away after hearing the gunshots. It took over an hour for the police to arrive. At the hospital, Papa was declared dead on arrival.

Maa broke down; I felt dead from within. But it was only the next day, as I carried my 52-yr old father’s dead body on my shoulders to the burning ghat, that it hit me–they’d killed my father just because he stood up for his daughter.

The next day, I filed an FIR. I wrote to the CM asking for justice. It’s been 15 days since Papa was shot and his murderer is still at large. The police claim that they haven’t been able to find Gaurav yet, but how is that possible? I know they’re protecting him because he’s a politician.

For how long will the women in UP continue to suffer? What is the guarantee that he won’t shoot me or my mother tomorrow? I mean, I could be found lying dead in the same farm or be gangraped by Gaurav’s men and nobody would wink a lash!

How long will we be bruised, raped, harassed and killed? The cops don’t care, the government wants to preserve their vote bank and men continue to treat us like property. This is not the India I want to live in– either catch the culprits or kill us as well; it’s better to die at once then to die bit by bit every single day.’’

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