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Rape survivor, topper, now labourer
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 10:24 IST

Ahmedabad: She survived the torment of being repeatedly gangraped-- at a government-run college in Patan, by her own teachers -- and yet
topped the Primary Teacher's Certificate exams.
Now she survives as a farm labourer, earning Rs60 per day. The victim, Pooja (name changed), a Dalit girl, who was violated for months by the
very people who were supposed to protect and nurture her, was promised a job by the state government.

The assurance was given during the trial of her six tormentors, who were later sentenced to life in prison, at a time when outraged and
shamed Gujarat demanded that the government act responsibly and sensitively.

Those promises seem to have been forgotten today. While her application for employment is tossed back and forth in babudom's
labyrinth, Pooja struggles to fend for her bed-ridden parents. Her mother underwent a hysterectomy recently and the father suffered a
bone injury, said Manjula Pradeep, the executive director of NGO, Navsarjan, which has been championing Pooja's fight for justice.

Talking to DNA over phone, Pooja said, "I cannot join a private school because they pay a measly Rs1,000 a month. As a labourer, I earn Rs60
per day." Her toils demoralise her so much that even the memory of scoring 86.8 % in her final PTC exams provide little succor, she said.

As for government functionaries who had initially offered her support, they are now issuing non-committal platitudes. Pooja said that the
state education minister, Ramanlal Vora, had told her, "The government has received your application for a job, and will get back to you in
due course of time." The only concrete offer that was made, that of a clerical job, came at a time when she was fighting her battle for

"The government has to perform its role by offering her social security, and ensuring her physical and mental well-being," Pradeep
said. "It should fulfil all its promises of looking after her and giving her a life of dignity."

Corroborating Pooja's statement that she had sent written applications to all government notables, including Narendra Modi, Pradeep said that
Pooja had also met the Mehsana collector twice with her plea for a job.

Ajay Bhadoo, the district collector of Mahesana, confirmed receiving her representation. "She had made a representation to us in writing,
three or four months back," he said. "We had forwarded it to the official concerned, who is the district primary education officer.
Then the application was forwarded to the state government."

Meanwhile, Pooja continues to press on with her menial job, showing the same spirit that allowed her to survive her unspeakable trauma.
She has received no monetary assistance, apart from the chief minister's token relief of Rs1 lakh, released soon after her story broke.

Despite DNA's sustained attempts, education minister Vora and revenue minister Anandiben Patel, who is the sitting MLA from Patan, could not
be reached for comments.
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