No justice yet for their daughter, nine months on

No justice yet for their daughter, nine months on

Menka Tandon was found hanging from a tree. Her family is still waiting for justice.

“My daughter cooked for us, went to school and never came back”. Menka’s father is still waiting for justice.

Sixteen-year-old Menka Tandon was found hanging from a tree on June 16, 2014. Her father, Dhanwa Tandon, says she cooked in the morning and went to school. She was happy and loved her family and she could not have committed suicide -- the reason of death cited by the police. 

Her sisters, who went to the same school with Menka say that day a boy came to school and blackmailed their sister to come out of school and meet him. He had got her name tattooed across his chest, and threatened he would show it to everyone. Her sisters say they last her looking flustered and took leave from school. 

By evening when Menka didn’t return home, her father frantically started searching for her. Nobody could find a trace of the girl. Early next morning somebody came running that a girl had been found hanging from a tree in the next village. Dhanwa says he fainted on the spot hearing that. He couldn't find the strength to go and identify and corroborate this horrible story to his own daughters. 

The entire village rushed to the spot on cycles, motorbikes and any mode of transport they could find. Menka was hanging from her dupatta from the branch of a massive old tree. The police refused to register a case of murder, saying it was suicide. 

Till evening, nobody from the local police station came to the spot. It took many men great effort to climb the tree and bring Menka’s body down. Her father and uncle argued with the police that the tree was so difficult to climb, their daughter could not have climbed it. They challenged the policemen to climb it on their own. They showed the tyre marks of a jeep in the dirt which proved that someone had come there in a four wheeler. 

They assume that men must've climbed on the bonnet of the vehicle and hung her from the tree. There was blood underneath her fingernails, bruises on her arms and feet. Her clothes were covered in dirt. All signs that she had been hurt and gang raped before she was killed. For the postmortem just her chest was cut up. No further tests were conducted to verify if she’d been raped. 

When the family and villagers pushed for another postmortem the police collected samples of bones from various parts of her body and her underwear. The evidence remained untouched in the police station for 15 days before it was sent to the lab. The report has come in now. The family is yet to see it. 

Almost nine months later, with no legal help and guidance, the parents of Menka Tandon feel hopeless and don't know where to knock for help and justice. Her mother says she wants to see the perpetrators hang to death.

“No mother should have to see her daughter like this. I'm a mother of daughters. I can't begin to imagine her pain” – Asian Circle co-founder, Kalyani Gandhi-Rhodes.

Her sisters have stopped going to school, scared that the boys who belonged to an ‘upper caste’ and had political connections might try to harm them too. 

The family is now being counselled by Oxfam India’s partner, Lokdrushti along with Chhattisgarh Mahila Manch. They have no money for a long legal battle or the resources to provide a safe life to their other children. 

Asian Circle co-founder Kalyani listening to Menka’s father

Menka's parents struggling to ensure a safe future for their remaining daughters and fighting to get justice for Menka. 

Kalyani breaks down after talking to Menka’s parents. 

Kalyani holding the documents and the picture of Menka hanging from a tree.

Menka's younger sisters talking to Kalyani about what they saw on June 16 when she left school and never returned 


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