Auto driver arrested in Ujjain rape case

Police said the survivor’s condition had improved and a surgery she underwent was also successful; CM says accused will get punishment, calls crime an attack ‘on conscience of Madhya Pradesh’

September 28, 2023 11:17 pm | Updated September 29, 2023 01:21 am IST - RAIPUR

The rape survivor was found on the road in Ujjain, bleeding from injuries caused by the sexual assault. Photo for representation.

The rape survivor was found on the road in Ujjain, bleeding from injuries caused by the sexual assault. Photo for representation. | Photo Credit: The Hindu

An autorickshaw driver, who was arrested for allegedly raping a minor girl he found on the streets of Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain, sustained injuries while attempting to escape from police custody on September 28, investigators said. 

Earlier this week, the girl, who was left semi-clad and bleeding after the sexual assault, was found wandering the streets of the holy town. The police arrested two autorickshaw drivers in connection with the case on September 28 – Bharat Soni for the sexual assault and Rakesh Malviya for failing to report the crime. According to the FIR, the girl is around 15 years old.

Superintendent of Police, Ujjain, Sachin Sharma said that the girl had gone missing from Satna – nearly 720 km from Ujjain – on September 24 and arrived in the city in the early hours of September 25. The police say the assault must have occurred between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Video evidence, corroborated by eyewitness accounts, had established that she was seen with six people – four of them autorickshaw drivers, Mr. Sharma added.

“Footage from several CCTV cameras was checked, information from residents of areas located along the bypass road was collected and technical evidence was gathered. Various teams questioned those with criminal records and others including autorickshaw drivers, rickshaw pullers, e-rickshaw drivers, bus operators, people at railway stations and bus stands,” he said.

On Thursday, the police learnt through an informer that auto driver Bharat, whose vehicle has the word ‘Arjun’ written on it, took the girl with him. After Special Investigation Team (SIT) members took him into custody and interrogated him, he confessed to his crime, said a police statement.

According to the statement, when the police took the suspect to the spot of the crime after his arrest, he tried to flee after pushing the police personnel accompanying him.

“Efforts were made to arrest the accused by immediately calling additional personnel to the spot. The accused pelted stones at the police, due to which some police officers got injured, and the accused got himself injured after falling into a pit while running away,” said Mr. Sharma.

Speaking on the victim, the police said that her condition had improved, and a surgery she underwent was also successful. She is being treated at the Holkar Women’s Hospital in Indore.

NCPCR member visits hospital

Divya Gupta, a member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), visited the hospital and met doctors treating the girl. “The girl has lost a lot of blood and has undergone a major surgery. She has been given two bottles of blood so far. But with the treatment, her condition is gradually improving,” Dr. Gupta, a gynaecologist herself, said.

“We have given strict instructions to the administration that no outsider should be allowed to meet the girl as she gets upset whenever she sees any stranger. She gestures that the person leave the room immediately,” Dr. Gupta said.

She said the incident shows a mirror to society. “After the rape, the girl wandered on the streets of Ujjain for two-and-half hours, seeking help... someone should have come forward to help this child. But no one came,” she said.

Dr. Gupta, who is associated with the ruling BJP, however, also said it was shameful that the case was being politicised in view of the coming Assembly election and the Congress was trying to settle political scores with the BJP.

CM promises punishment

Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said his government will ensure that the accused arrested for raping and brutalising the girl gets stringent punishment.

“The accused, identified as Bharat, was caught and he suffered injuries in the process. I was following the investigation of the case every hour. Such persons have no place in society. He has injured the conscience of Madhya Pradesh,” the Chief Minister said.

It also emerged during the probe that the girl has some intellectual disability and was living in Satna with her maternal grandfather, who is her guardian. While the Satna Police said that her grandfather recognised her with the help of CCTV footage, the Ujjain Police said that available evidence suggested that she travelled alone to the holy town but the mode of transport was not clear.

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra slammed the Chouhan government over the incident, saying girls, women, tribals and Dalits are not safe under the “misrule” of the BJP.

“The brutality meted out to a little girl in Ujjain, the city of Lord Mahakal, is soul-shattering. After the torture, she kept wandering from door to door for help for two-and-half hours and then fell unconscious on the road but could not get help,” Gandhi said on X. “Is this the state of law and order and women’s safety in Madhya Pradesh?” she asked.

(With PTI inputs)

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