Anjana Mishra, then student and estranged wife of an Indian Forest Service officer, was gang raped on January 9, 1999 following a history of abuse within her marriage. The case created a furore in the State with Anjana accusing the then Chief Minister J. B. Patnaik and his associate, former Advocate-General of Orissa Indrajit Ray, of having played a role in the incident. It caused a mass strike bringing parts of the state to a standstill for the day and was even recorded in the British government's House of Commons official publications;
UK Government wrote:Throughout she was being subjected to torture, but her only solace was that she was with her child. There was also an attempt on the part of her husband and his brother to have her admitted in Mount Abu as a Brahma Kumari. She narrowly escaped this. She had her second child after a gap of five years of the first child's birth.
Anjana's car was intercepted at a desolate place on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar and she was gang raped in front of a journalist friend. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took up the case after the Orissa High Court ordered an investigation. After a long battle, Anjana Mishra has won her case. Two of the three accused were sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 5,000 each. The third accused, alleged held the key to unravelling the "conspiracy" behind the gang rape, absconded and has not been found.
Ex-advocate Indrajit Ray, under the false pretext of holding legal discussions on the dowry extortion and torture case she had filed against her husband, Subash Chandra, also attempted to sexually abuse her. His punishment for molestation and attempted to rape was three years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 5,000. A mere $115 US Dollars. After CBI investigations the then chief minister, J.B. Patnaik, also drew flak for allegedly shielding Ray. Sonia Gandhi was said to have to remove him from his position. Anjana said, "While I was being raped the men repeatedly said I would have been a 'Queen of Orissa' (the queen of the chief minister), had I not taken on Chief Minister J.B. Patnaik."
So, into this murky picture of 'Pure Mother India' today, and the plight of ordinary women, step our Good Sisters in White again ... or Good Sisters in White backed by the powerful brothers with political connections in Madhuban. What do we know of the Brahma Kumaris conduct in this and have there been other such cases? Who accepted Anjana into Mount Abu? Did anyone speak to her, find out what was wrong and assist this woman ... or was it just "her karma" to be fixed by more Yoga? Did the BKWSU fulfill its 'duty of care' towards its followers?
Given the BKs "open door policy", and criticism of their habit of demanding dowries and financial support for young girls surrendering to become servants within the organization ... did any money pass hands between the men?
Your answer on the back of a 1,000 Rupee note to the usual address ...
Anjana Mishra wrote:A Landmark Victory: Orissa Court Vindicates a Woman's Battle for Her Dignity - or download file from the Library.
I was married on February 25, 1997, to an Indian Forest Officer, Subash Chandra Mishra, the boy of my parents' dreams, an Oriya Brahmin, I.F.S. and Orissa Cadre. He was thirteen years my senior. Dowry considerations, cultural differences and age gaps were all set aside. The reason for this is that my elder sister, an electronics engineer, had married a man of another caste, creating shock waves in the relatively small city of Bhubaneswar. I was the real victim. My sister's marriage could not be reversed, so to maintain status quo, I had to marry well.
To my shock and horror, I learned that a huge dowry had been paid after my wedding, before I was taken to my in-law's home. No dowry transactions had taken place in the marriage pandal, as I had threatened to walk out if such a transaction were to have taken place. My entire married life was a saga of pain with very few moments of happiness. All my dreams of Prince Charming were shattered when I learned, two days after marriage, that my husband had created a love child with his own elder brother's wife – in wanton disregard of all societal norms. As my husband's affair with his bhabi raged on, even after our marriage, the nightmare worsened. He began to demand increased dowry and threaten me with physical torture.
I stood firm and grim. Contrary to expectation, things became worse after we had a child, for I was trapped in a marriage out of which there was no escape ... the nightmare continued ... I found myself in a psychiatric nursing home in Rourkela. Subash had admitted me forcibly after administering sedatives on April 4, 1995 ... I was administered six electric shocks.
For ten months, I lived in my parents home and waited patiently for my two sons, whom Subash had promised to send to me. Haunted by memories of my children, I decided to go back to my husband, setting aside my sense of dignity and fear of what might follow. As a consequence of my decision, the final cataclysm did follow: I was forced to swear an affidavit against my parents. The obvious objectives were blackmail and the opening of a criminal case against my parents at the Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC). Efforts were also made to convert me into a brahmakumari, by dumping me at their head-quarters in Mount Abu in 1996.
I went to the residence of the then Advocate General, Indrajit Ray, accompanied by Dolly, a staff member of Basundhara. Ray molested me and attempted to rape me. There began my lonely fight against the establishment. The legal paper was later torn up at the police station. On January 9, 1999, I was brutally raped by three men at Barang, on my way to Cuttack to meet my lawyer and journalist friend.
My story is a story of the shallow hypocrisy that camouflages most of the elite upper class society. To my family, my protest and my coming into the open about the violence committed against me was an unwelcome jolt to their calm existence. My protest was taken more as an exposure of things which should have remained untold. Unfortunately, my family identified more with the public ridicule and gossip than with the pain of their own daughter.
Anjana writes, "the entire system is very insensitive to a woman who has been abused. And her travail begins right from the time of filing the first information report. When I went to Police in the Indrajit Ray case, they tore up my complaint."
"I cannot understand how judges allow such dirty questions. Why cannot they just go by facts? The gang rape trial was in-camera, but even then it was very humiliating. I was the only woman present. My life is an open one now. I cannot imagine how protected women from conservative backgrounds cope. I get threatening calls even today. Winning is not easy. It is an extremely humiliating process. Women have to learn to be extremely strong mentally, you have to believe in yourself. Society tries to suppress you. It is only when you are strong that the rest of the world is with you."