Protests have broken out in parts of Rajasthan and elsewhere in the country after a Dalit student, Delta Meghwal, was found dead on the campus of Jain College, Nokha. According to The Ladies Finger, on March 29, Meghwal’s body was found in the college’s water tank, and she is believed to have been raped. The 17-year-old was studying to be a teacher. The college's physical training instructor, Vijendra Singh, has been arrested in connection with the crimes and is in police custody, PTI reported.
Meghwal’s parents filed an FIR with the Nokha police, and activists have alleged that the death appears to be an institutional crime. The FIR states that the day before she was found dead, Meghwal had called her father and told him that Singh had raped her. She said that the hostel warden had sent her to Singh’s room to clean it.
Moreover, the FIR claims, the institute later forced Meghwal and Singh to write a written apology saying they had been caught having consensual sex. She was found dead a day later, having expressed to her parents that she feared for her life, online news portal The Indian Herald claimed.
The postmortem report found that she did not have any water in her lungs, which meant she had not jumped in to the tank in a suicide bid. The postmortem report also claims that the cause of death cannot be established till there are confirmations from the forensic lab. The report also says “nothing can be said about sexual violence, however vaginal smear etc. etc have been sealed and sent to FSL (sic)”.
Among several other questions, activists have asked why Meghwal was sent to Singh's room in the first place. They have also asked why the college did not file an FIR when the question of sex came to light given that she is a minor. Others have pointed out that due process was not followed as a garbage truck was used to move her body after it was found, which they claim is a murky development.
The incident comes to light two months after Dalit PhD scholar Rohith Vemula committed suicide at the University of Hyderabad in January. His death sparked nationwide protests and and ongoing debate on the systemic violence perpetuated against Dalit students in the country.