In 2012, a khap panchayat in Haryana’s Jind district blamed consumption of Chowmein behind the growing incidents of rapes in the state saying it leads to hormonal imbalance. Jitender Chhatar, a resident of Jind’s Chhatar village and thua khap panchayat leader at that time said:
“To my understanding, consumption of fast food contributes to such incidents. Chowmein leads to hormonal imbalance evoking an urge to indulge in such acts,”
Jitender was just one among many Khap leaders who made bizarre statements, like others who said wearing women jeans and using mobile phones led to rape.
But, what made Jitender different from his contemporaries is his willingness to change his perceptions and grow as an individual.
Post 2012, Jitender made quite an inspiring journey of becoming a feminist. In the patriarchal society, where the rape victim is shamed and harassed, he not only married a rape victim, but also pledged to get her justice.
The Nightmare That His Wife Lived
As per the recent article published by HT, Jitender shared the nightmare that his wife went through.
A few years ago, even before they were married, his wife was gang-raped by eight men. During the traumatic rape incident, they took her naked photos and videos to later blackmail her. They used the pictures to rape her for a year-and-a-half.
What Led To His Pursuit Of Justice?
As the marriage was arranged by their parents, he visited his wife’s home with his parents. After the match was approved, he was not expected to see her again until the marriage ceremony. But one day, she called him and requested him to visit once more with his parents as she wanted to tell her something important.
During the trip, she told him that she was a rape survivor and never wanted to start a relationship with a lie.
Because of what she went through, his wife felt that she was not worthy of the relationship. But Jitender felt like it was his moment of conscious awakening. He felt that God will not forgive him if he said no to the marriage.
What he did next set him apart from everyone else! He not only promised to marry her, but also to help her get justice.
While sharing the details of the incident, he mentioned to TBI:
“When she told me about the incident, I never for a second questioned her actions or wanted. They were the ones who should be ashamed and punished. I was not going to let them take something special away from us.”
The fight has been really tough but his commitment doesn’t know how to give up.
Since the legal proceedings have initiated, Jitender, his wife, and his family have received several threats. There have been goons who have visited their houses threatening them to quit the legal battle. The men against whom Jitender is fighting a legal battle are just not wealthy but also politically well-connected.
Even after threats and multiple fraudulent FIRs, Jitender and his family are standing tall against the society that values money and power more than the woman dignity.
“On multiple occasions, we have received death threats and outside-court settlements. We are scared every time we visit the court. The journey from our house to the court is dreading and we always feel our vehicle will be attacked. They have retaliated against me by filing false cases. Meanwhile, the political connections of the accused have influenced the evidence. Several photos and videos have been deleted by the police due to pressures. This has severely undermined Pooja’s trial process,” says Jitender.
When the district court acquitted the accused, Jitender made sure to take the case to the high court. He sold his prime property to pay lawyer fees and make sure that there are no hiccups in the legal battle.
Instead of being heartbroken by these unfortunate turn of events, Jitender studied law to understand the proceedings better.
“The district court acquitted the accused only because our lawyer was bought by them and he tampered with evidence. Since I am not working and full-time engaged in the court proceedings, I had to sell two pieces of my farmland to sustain ourselves and hire a better lawyer.”
After several appeals, lawyers, and court visits, the case is presently being filed in the Chandigarh High Court. Though justice maybe still a far cry, the couple, who are parents to two children, is not giving up. While sharing the details of the long fight of justice, the couple mentioned:
“We could either move on and embrace a new beginning or fight the long battle with no guaranteed results. We embarked on the challenging path with unconditional faith in the judiciary. We did not want to be an example that affirms the lawlessness of our country. We want to be the ones that gave hope and courage to every sexual assault survivor. We are not going to let those perpetrators get away easily,”
It is inspiring how the couple is fighting against threats, political pressures, and financial losses to seek justice. Their inspiring battle for justice makes us applaud these courageous and determined brave souls.
We not only wish Jitender and his wife gets swift justice but also many other men seek inspiration from Jitender to come forward to support their wives, sisters, and daughters in a legal battle.
Because, if they won’t then who. If not now, then when!