20 persons questioned in connection with the Manipal incident; no arrests made yet

Home Minister K.J. George said here on Sunday that the State government was planning to set up a fast-track court to try the Manipal gang-rape case.

It may be recalled that a medical student of Manipal University was kidnapped and gang-raped in Manipal on Thursday (June 20) night. The student, who suffered a fracture in the leg, was admitted to Kasturba Hospital in Manipal where she is recuperating.

Addressing presspersons here, Mr. George said that the government would seek the permission of the Chief Justice of the State High Court to set up the fast-track court. The new anti-rape law provides for the setting up of such a fast-track court.

He said eight police teams were working hard to crack the case. He had directed the police to probe the case impartially and bring the culprits to book. The Chief Minister and Home Minister of Kerala had spoken to him about the case.

The Minister visited the rape victim at the Kasturba Hospital on Sunday and spoke to her and her mother. The visit was intended to boost the confidence in the girl. The family said that their privacy should be respected.

“It is not the student’s fault that this incident has happened. We have to blame ourselves for it. We are ready to provide whatever support the family needs,” Mr. George said.

Pratap Reddy, IGP (Western Range), said that the police questioned around 20 people, including autorickshaw drivers, in connection with the case but no arrests were made. Three police teams checked 3,000 autorickshaws. The police have also spoken to leaders of autorickshaw drivers’ union who have said they would cooperate in solving the case.

Mr. Pratap Reddy said he had spoken to the two Manipal University guards, who had chased the autorickshaw using which the girl was kidnapped. Though the information they gave was minimal, the leads they gave were being followed. As many as 100 police personnel were working to crack the case, he added.

The girl provided some information in the presence of doctors, counsellors, and a police official on Saturday and that has helped in the investigation. “But we are not putting any pressure on her. We are very careful and considerate about it.”

The police are waiting for the medical report. At present, the police have registered the case of sexual assault on the girl by a gang on the basis of a complaint lodged by the Estate Officer of Manipal University. The case might be modified after getting the medical report, Mr. Reddy said.

Bipin Gopalkrishna, Additional Director-General of Police, said that the police had got some clues in the case. They included an idol of Ganesha in the autorickshaw and a slight damage to the autorickshaw. The autorickshaw was not a new one but an old one of Bajaj make with one headlight. These leads were being followed. “But I cannot give any timeframe for cracking the case. We are doing our best. The IGP will be here till the case is solved. I will be here for a few more days. Some of our officers from Bangalore are also here to help in the investigations.”

Superintendent of Police M.B. Boralingaiah said when the police were informed about the kidnap of the student, security was tightened in 15 km radius of Manipal so that no one escaped. The police did not anticipate the incident to take place in the vicinity of Manipal, the official said.