Gaya weavers go on strike, protest ‘framing of innocent parents’ in girl’s beheading

Thousands of weavers in Bihar’s Gaya west on an indefinite strike on Friday to protest what they said was police high-handedness in the investigation of the murder case of a 16-year-old girl from their community and framing of her “innocent parents” in her killing.

“Police has framed innocent people in the murder case to hush the case. The gullible couple was picked up in the wee hours of Thursday, subjected to third-degree torture, and forced to admit killing their own daughter,” said Gopal Patwa, president, Gaya Weavers Association.

“We are a backward community. The upper caste officers have shown no humanity, let alone doing justice in the case. The entire weavers’ community is dismayed and have decided to stop work till the government orders a fair probe by a central agency,” he said.

There are around 30,000 weavers in Gaya called Patwas, who weave and stitch clothes from locally available threads. Their strike could adversely affect the local economy as some of them are directly dependent on the business and several hundred families are also associated indirectly.

The daughter of a weaver had gone missing on December 28 last year. Her father had lodged a missing case on January 4 and alleged that his daughter could have been kidnapped.

On January 6, Gaya Police claimed to have found the girl’s beheaded body from a field in Joda Masjid-Baksaria Tola locality in a mutilated state. Her severed head was later found five kilometres away in a field.

On Thursday, Patna’s senior superintendent of police Rajiv Kumar Mishra said they had solved the murder and that her father and his friend, both aged 45, killed her. “Prima facie it seems to be a case of honour killing,” Mishra said during a press conference.

Within an hour of Mishra’s announcement, the Patwas of Gaya’s Patwa Toli hit the streets and declared the investigation “fake and motivated”. They demanded a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), saying police had failed to do justice to neither with the victim nor the bereaved family.

“We do not believe in the police claims. They have acted in a hurry to put to rest the rising protests and pouring solidarity to the victim’s family over the gruesome incident. We refuse to believe the parents would have killed their own daughter so brutally,” said Pramila Patwa, a local ward councillor.

The Patwa leaders allege that the victim’s parents were treated inhumanly at the police station and were not allowed to meet anyone throughout the day.

They drew parallels of the case with Delhi’s Aarushi murder case claiming truth would prevail soon and the police allegations against the jailed couple would be nullified and they would be released soon.

Gopal Patwa questioned if police were so convinced by their investigation, why did they not produce the lethal weapons that were used in butchering the girl. “They seemed to be in a hurry. Perhaps, they were worried by the growing protests over their failure to crack the brutal murder, a rare incident in Gaya,” he said.

Another leader alleged, “We never thought the police would stoop so low. The poor couple doesn’t have the wherewithal to contest the case in court. But the community stands by them and would fight for justice so that the guilty are jailed, not the innocent.”

First Published: Jan 11, 2019 14:32 IST

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