No justice in sight for Haryana gang-rape victim

Even as the issue of crime against women caused outrage across the nation following the sensational gang-rape and murder of a physiotherapy student in a moving bus in the Capital over a month ago, yet another shocking story of brazen denial of justice to a teenage gang-rape victim more than eight months after the incident in a remote Haryana village, just 70 km from the National Capital, has now come to light.

Though much time has lapsed since the incident, the police are yet to record the statement of the victim under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which is usually done within 8-10 days after the lodging of the First Information Report, and the charge-sheet is yet to be filed. In the meantime, the accused, who belong to influential families, are roaming freely and have forced the victim and her family to flee the village.

As per the FIR, it all began on the fateful night of June 28 last when three youth of the village - Azad, Liyakat and Sajid – allegedly barged into the victim’s humble dwelling around midnight while the victim was asleep, gagged her and forcibly took her to an isolated place on the outskirts of the village. Singar village sarpanch Hanif also joined the three on being informed over the phone. As per the complaint the four accused then forced the teenager to consume liquor, beat her up and allegedly took turns to rape her till early morning.

It has been alleged that the accused then kept the teenaged girl captive in Hanif’s house, repeatedly raped her and dumped her outside her village two days later and also audaciously informed the teenager’s mother on her mobile phone about it.

But it was not to be the end, but the beginning of victim’s long struggle for justice. Though the police recorded the statement of the victim on June 30 evening, as per the First Information Report (a copy of which is with The Hindu ), it took them nine days to register the case even after the medical examination confirmed the assault. “The then Deputy Superintendent of the Police, Puhana Station House Officer and the Investigation Officer tried to coerce us into not naming the sarpanch . They promised a water-tight case if we did not name Hanif in the FIR and tried all sorts of tactics. And it was only after the intervention of the Nun MLA that a FIR was finally registered on July 9,” said one of the friends of the victim’s family.

On July 16, one of the accused, Azad, again made an attempt to abduct the victim, but was caught by the villagers and handed over to the police. “He was kept in the lock-up for a couple of days and then let off and all the four accused are now roaming free with the police taking no action against them. The accused are now pressuring the victim and her family to withdraw the case and settle the matter outside the court,” said the victim’s lawyer Haroon Khan, who recently moved the local mobile court seeking directions to record the statement of the victim under Section 164 of CrPC.

Haryana Director General of Police S.N Vashisht had last month said that those involved in cases of rape and molestation should be arrested within 24 hours and the cases be finalised within 30 days, but Mewat Superintendent of Police Sukhbir Singh, when contacted, said that he could not put innocent people behind bars. “More than 90 per cent of rape cases in Mewat are fake and are registered to settle personal scores or blackmail the accused. We cannot put innocent people behind bars. The matter is under investigation and the blood samples of the accused will soon be sent for DNA sampling,” said Mr. Singh.

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