On New Year’s Eve, as several groups huddled around makeshift bonfires and consumed alcohol at Haiderpur slums, several men from outside the colony, draped in shawls, also took part in the revelry. The men were Delhi Police’s best beat officers chosen from the northwest district, who skipped celebrating with their family and instead mingled with local criminals so they could find the men accused of raping a domestic help and assaulting her friend on December 16 last year.
The officers deftly steered the conversations — from local stabbings and snatchings to the gangrape, which took place at Sheesh Mahal park. The gossip finally yielded a name, and police arrested the man from the slums.
“The accused was identified as Arun Yadav, who sells pesticides for a living. He gave up the names of the other accused — Shiv Prasad, an auto driver, and Kamlesh, a school dropout,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (northwest) Aslam Khan.
Khan said Kamlesh was arrested from Varanasi while Prasad had fled to Jaunpur, but returned to Delhi, from where the arrest was made. Police recovered a mobile phone belonging to the domestic help from the accused. Police also claimed that another important piece of evidence, which ties them to the crime, has been recovered. “We are still verifying the statements of the accused,” said a police officer. Prasad had been arrested in the past as well — for allegedly raping a minor from Haiderpur slums in 2013. He was released on bail last year,” police said.
On December 16, the 16-year-old domestic help and her male friend were at Sheesh Mahal park when the three accused, who were taking a stroll in an inebriated condition, spotted them. The three allegedly assaulted the man and raped the girl.
As the three allegedly raped the girl, her friend ran to the police station and convinced two policemen to accompany him to the park. But the girl and the group had left by then. Her friend then decided to return home and spotted the girl near his house. The girl’s mother registered a case the following night.
Police had to grapple with the fact that it was a blind case, without a single lead. In fact, due to the non-functioning lights at the park, even the victim had trouble identifying the accused.
Police then resorted to a large-scale manual search operation by constituting 10 teams comprising three ACP-rank officers, around five inspector-rank officers and a 200-men team tasked with conducting physical verifications.
The DCP and Additional DCP Anil Kumar Lal themselves took part in questioning the suspects. Police made a detailed list of 200 residents with criminal cases, and tracked down their locations before making a breakthrough.