As a police officer, Satheesh Balan has consistently worked on the issue of violence against women. As a Superintendent of Police in Haryana, Balan also speaks out against caste violence, which is rampant in the state and several other parts of India. Here, he talks about a recent intervention he made.
“I have intervened in many cases, but there is one which has stayed with me. An OBC girl and a Dalit boy were friends, but the people of that village suspected they were in love. The boy’s face was blackened by the girl’s family and some other self-styled panchayat members. Within two hours, the girl was kidnapped and married off to a criminal, who raped her for 7–8 months. The boy left the village after the incident and was working in another district as a temporary school teacher.
Before I was posted to that district, no arrests had been made in the case. However, I got the girl's father and a few family members arrested and chargesheeted. The panchayat tried to file a false case against the boy, and the girl was forced to testify against him. But she came to my residence and told me everything. Her family members had even threatened her younger sister with a similar fate. And the girl’s mother was captive in her own home because she supported her daughter.
I got the girl’s statement recorded with a woman advocate, and sent a woman inspector to their home, where the girls and their mother were rescued. I also got the mother a job in my department and supported the girls' education. Now, all three women live on the police campus.
The boy had also approached me for police protection because he felt threatened and I made sure he got it. He is now working in a private school and whenever he visits the village, he is accompanied by an armed policeman.
In the mean time, panchayat members burned an effigy of me and accused me of disrespecting their customs. If their traditions include blackening someone’s face and forcing a girl to marry, then I have no regrets.
The trial is still going on, but the girl is determined to see it through. She is doing her B.A. and I feel really proud that I was able to empower her.”