Although the incident took place on the night of December 25, the police took up the case only on December 31 after activists took up the issue with higher authorities

It took around a week for the police to file a First Information Report and apprehend the man who allegedly attempted to rape a woman, and battered her husband at Puttila in Belthangady taluk. Although the incident took place on the night of December 25, the police took up the case only on December 31 after activists took up the issue with higher authorities.

Returning home on Christmas, daily-wage worker M. Ashraf (25) said he heard screams from the house. As he struggled to force open the locked door, the assailant — whom he identified as M. Hameed, an autorickshaw driver, who lives in the same village — escaped, he said. “I ran behind him, caught him, and removed his Driving Licence and his mobile. He picked up a wooden plank and smacked me on the head. I fell unconscious and woke up only in a hospital at Puttur,” he said. After his concussion subsided, he was discharged on Sunday. According to the ‘official’ statement given to the Punjalkatte police by his 24-year-old wife, Hameed made his way into the house as they did not usually lock the door. Though her two children — a three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl — were in the house, he pounced on her, and tore open her ‘chudidhar’ while gagging her with his hand to stop her from screaming.

Ashraf was rushed in an ambulance to a hospital in Puttur and then to Wenlock District Hospital in Mangalore. The police took her statement on December 26 and a day later Mr. Ashraf’s statement.

According to Ashraf, when he went to the station on Sunday to enquire about the inaction, police officials advised him to reach a compromise. “They told me not to make it a big issue. It was only when we took up the matter with higher officials that the FIR was filed late on Monday night,” he said. Hameed was arrested on Monday night under cases of assault and intimidation.

Denying attempts to pressure a compromise in the case, Punjalkatte police said the delay was attributed to the difficulty in tracing the couple to Mangalore, and the varied versions presented by the homemaker. “Initially her version did not contain any mention of attempted rape, and instead narrated that the two were fighting over her husband’s suspicions of an illicit affair. Later, probably under pressure from her husband, she changed it to rape attempt. We did not find proof of attempted rape, and hence have booked him for causing hurt,” said an official.

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