The victim was made to step out of the house by a fake phone call

A fact-finding committee formed by ‘Evidence,’ a Madurai-based organisation, has sought action against those involved in the sexual assault of a 35-year old woman said to be belonging to the Dalit community. The authorities say they are unsure whether the woman belongs to a Scheduled Caste.

According to A. Kathir, executive director of Evidence, the woman, married to a Vanniyar man from Panniandikottai in Palacode in Dharmapuri district, was sexually assaulted by a four-member gang on July 10. The victim was made to step out of the house by a fake phone call stating that her husband, who was driving a lorry, had met with an accident. The victim had identified the four accused, two of them who committed the crime, while the other two stood guard. Two of the suspects have been arrested.

The woman had on July 15 given a complaint, based on which a case was registered under IPC sections 376 (punishment for sexual assault) and 506 (1) (criminal intimidation).

The committee report recommended that provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, be invoked, the remaining two accused be arrested and Rs. 10 lakh solatium be given to the victim.

Superintendent of Police, Dharmapuri District, Asra Garg, said special teams had been formed to arrest the remaining two accused. There were varying versions relating to the victim’s community. In the event of her community certificate being produced, the FIR would be amended and Section 3(2)(5) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act would be invoked instantly.

Meanwhile, sources in the investigation team claimed that the victim belonged to Johiar community, which was not listed among the Scheduled Castes. Regarding the claim that she was from the Panniandi community, they added that this caste was a Scheduled Caste only in Tiruvallur district and not elsewhere in the State.