Accused arrested at Muzaffarpur in Bihar and brought to the Capital

Even as protests against the brutal rape of a five-year-old girl in the Gandhi Nagar area of East Delhi snowballed into widespread public outrage, the 22-year-old casual worker accused of the crime was brought here on Saturday. The accused, Manoj Sah, was tracked down to his in-laws’ place in Bihar by the State Police in coordination with their counterparts from Delhi.

The protesters, comprising volunteers from the Aam Aadmi Party, shouted slogans outside the 10-Janpath residence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, breached barricades and clashed with the police outside the bungalow of Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde at Krishna Menon Marg, and organised a daylong sit-in at the Delhi Police Headquarters.

Shaken by the gory incident, activists of the BJP, and the Left parties, besides the gamut of students’ organisations took to the streets to lodge their protest against police apathy and held candlelight marches. Angry residents also protested outside the Gandhi Nagar police station.

Releasing a health bulletin earlier on Saturday, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences Medical Superintendent D.K. Sharma said the victim, who was operated around Friday midnight and is being monitored by an eight-member team, was stable, conscious and alert. “All her vital parameters are normal and she is not in the Intensive Care Unit.”

Amid protests at the Police Headquarters, Deputy Commissioner of Police (East Delhi) Mr. Prabhakar held a press briefing in the afternoon to announce Sah’s arrest . “Manoj, who works at a garments factory, was arrested at Chiknouta in Muzaffarpur in the early hours of Saturday. We have obtained his transit remand. The accused disclosed that he had run away, leaving the girl in his room, thinking that she had died,” he said.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Manoj, who hails from Muzaffarpur, shifted here with his father about 15 years ago. His father, Bindeswar, runs a juice stall in Old Seelampur. “Manoj was earlier arrested in a trespass case in 2010 and the matter is at the trial stage,” the officer said.

According to the police, the accused who married about a year ago, boarded the Swatantrata Senani Express around 8.30 p.m. on Monday, almost two-and-half hours after the girl’s mother found that she had gone missing. The next evening he reached his village and took refuge at his in-laws’ place the next day.

“The victim’s mother lodged a complaint at the area police station around 8.30 p.m. on Monday, following which a case was registered,” said Mr. Prabhakar. When asked whether any person other than Manoj was also involved, he said things would become clear once the interrogation was over.

Though for over 40 hours the girl remained locked up in a ground-floor room of the same building in which she resided with her family, the police failed to trace her. Then, on Wednesday morning a neighbour heard her cries and alerted her relatives, who broke the lock and rescued her. She was then admitted to the Swami Dayanand Hospital where doctors found the three candles and a hair-oil bottle inside her that had caused an abdomen infection. There were ligature marks around her neck, which indicated that the accused had attempted to strangle her.

Manoj likely to be produced before a duty magistrate on Sunday.

While a vigilance enquiry has been initiated to probe allegations that the police had offered Rs. 2,000 bribe to the victim’s father in order to hush him up, the area Station House Officer and the Investigating Officer have been suspended. The police have also booked the landlord for not having verified Manoj’s background details.

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