Jharkhand News and Rajesh Soreng

Women Tribal Hockey Players' Friendship Twisted : A new approach to Honour Killing

Rajesh Soreng vs. State of Jharkhand & Ors. WP (Cri.) 64/2020 | Jharkhand High Court | Status: Pending | |

In the early hours on 11th August 2019 two dead bodies were discovered hanging from a tree with their feet almost touching the ground and the bodies one behind the other, in a remote-secluded Aarani Forest bordering Simdega and Orissa, behind the Panchayat Bhawan.

The two bodies were identified as Shraddha Shalini Soreng 14 years and Sunandini Bage 23 years, both talented young tribal Hockey players, who had also represented the State in a National level Hockey Tournament held in Delhi in the year 2019, under the coaching of Mary Meenakshi Purty. They were good friends, and their families knew each other, like any other middle class household. Sunandini was doing her Hockey Coaching, under Mary Meenakshi, while staying at the coach's house, where she not only did her coaching/practice but also helped in the household chores. Shraddha's father had brought her back to their house in Patratoli, as she was not being enrolled in the school for her 10th Std. as the coach had promised. But, despite all these, their love for hockey never decreased, nor their friendship ended.

What Happened on that Day - On 10th August 2019, Shraddha left home in Patratoli (Bansjor, Simdega) early in the morning like any other day for her school situated in Birmitrapur 30-35 kms from her home, but when in the evening she did not return home, her parents became worried, and started enquiring from everybody that they knew, but to no avail. On the other hand, Sunandini was seen in the coach's locality roaming about at 4 am.

And the same day, the coach's daughter Sonam Purty, along with her sister-in-law and driver went to Lachra, Sundergarh Orissa to Sunandini's home at about 3-4 pm with all of Sunandini's luggage. On being informed about their visit Sunandini's mother Anthonia Bage immediately came from the fields, only to be further perplexed, as there was no sign of Sunandini but all her luggage was lying near the entrance. And when Anthonia inquired about the same, Sonam told her that Sunandini had left early in the morning from the coach's house, and that she was only dropping off all her belongings.

Not being satisfied she asked about Sunandini's whereabouts, to which Sonal told her that she had physically assaulted Sunandini, as she was disobeying her, and not stopping talking to Shraddha, and Sonam got so agitated that she said that now if she gets hold of Shraddha she will not leave her also. And when Anthonia refused to take back Sunandini's luggage, saying that Sunandini might change her mind and go back to the Coach's house, but Sonam clarified her saying that, " वो और नहीं लौटेगी", and went taking the luggage along with her.

On 11th August 2019 both the families were informed about the fateful occurrence, following which both the families left for Aarani Forest. But, Anthonia called up the Coach Mary Meenakshi Purty to accompany them to Simdega, as they have never been to that place, but Mary Meenakshi flatly refused, saying that her advocate has asked her not to get involved, but, on the other hand assured her that she has talked to the Simdega PS Officer, who will hand over the dead body to the family without any problem. But, meeting with the Officers, had a even more heartbreaking experience for the family members, as the Officers were trying to silence the family members, saying that if they go ahead with the legal case, they will get punished, as their daughters were in a homosexual relationship, and had committed suicide fearing being shamed by the society. But Shraddha's father Rajesh Soreng alleged foul play and went ahead with the filing of the F.I.R alleging murder of the girls, and not suicide. But, the police were bent on brainwashing them about the twisted friendship-relationship between the girls. Unlike suicide deceased bodies, the eyes of both the deceased were not popping out nor their tongues were protruding from their mouth.

Thereafter, the postmortem was conducted, and the bodies were handed over to the respective families. As it was already night Anthonia requested Mary Meenakshi Purty, the coach, to let them halt at their house for the night, which the Coach straightaway denied saying that, they cannot bring the dead body to their house, as nobody in the neighbourhood knows about the mishap; but at the same time her nephew was trying to convince Anthonia that, they should not file a police case, as it would strain their relationship with Mary Meenakshi Purty.

Case Investigation - Since the day of the incident, the investigation of the case is biased, as the families of the deceased are getting no support either from the Officers or the Authorities. A protest took place on 19th October 2019 for justice to the deceased and their families, as their names-identity was being tarnished at the hands of not only the accused but also the authorities involved.
The Case Diary that has been submitted by the Investigating Officer is not only corrupt but, instead of focusing on the investigation, the focuses on the character assassination of the deceased and the father, Rajesh Soreng. The investigation and the case diary is bent on proving that the the deceased were involved in all kinds of toxic habits, whereas the school authorities and the local people have a very positive views about the deceased. Despite various representations to concerned authorities, the case is still awaiting proper investigation.