The Madhya Pradesh government on Friday formed a Special Investigation Team to probe the gangrape of a 19-year-old science student near Habibganj Railway Station on Tuesday, and suspended five police officials for alleged insensitivity and negligence in handling the case.
SHOs of three police stations and two sub-inspectors were suspended after Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called a meeting of senior bureaucrats and police officials even as Opposition parties took to the streets alleging that law and order in the state capital had worsened, contrary to the ruling party’s claim.
The girl, who is preparing for state civil services examination and whose parents both work with the police, was to board a train for Vidisha on Tuesday evening. She took a shortcut from her coaching institute in M P Nagar Zone-2 locality to Habibganj railway station. Several coaching institutes are located close to the railway track and the locality is among the busiest in Bhopal.
She had walked some distance when a man, who police later identified as a ragpicker, grabbed her hand. When she pushed him away, he called another person. They took her near a culvert and raped her.
The girl told the police that one of them left to get her clothes while the other watched over her. The man returned with two others who also took turns to rape her. She was gangraped for over three hours. After she collapsed, the alleged rapists, who live in a nearby slum, took her phone and earrings.
The girl managed to reach the Railway Protection Force station and called her father, a sub-inspector with the RPF, who took her to his quarters.
On Wednesday, the girl, accompanied by her parents, first went to M P Nagar police station, then Habiganj police station and lastly Habibganj Government Railway Police station as police officials took their time to decide under the jurisdiction of which police station the crime had happened. In the meantime, the state celebrated its Foundation Day and the Chief Minister repeated his announcement to move a Bill in the next Assembly session providing death penalty for the rape of minors and other stringent amendments to punish crimes against women.
A police official at Habibganj Railway Police station allegedly chided the family for making up a filmy story. While the official was suspended on Thursday, the in-charges of these three police stations and another sub-inspector were suspended on Friday, and a city superintendent of police was attached to headquarters.
IG (law and order) Makrand Deuskar said an inquiry by DIG (Crime Against Women) had prime facie found negligence on the part of officials in the three police stations. He said three accused — Golu Bihari, Amar and Rajesh — have been arrested. A search is on for the fourth suspect.
Deuskar said the first police station should have registered a zero complaint and transferred the case later. Trial will begin at the earliest, he added.
On the way to Habibganj, the girl had identified one of the accused, Golu, who was loitering near Mansarovar Complex opposite the state BJP headquarters, and managed to nab him with the help of her parents. Deuskar confirmed that the family nabbed the first accused, whose interrogation led to identification of three other accused. Golu faces three cases, including a murder, before the gangrape.
The state human rights commission has sought a report within 10 days.
“It took MP police 11 hours to file the case — absolutely shocking. Authorities must take strict and immediate action against perpetrators,’’ tweeted Congress chief whip in the Lok Sabha Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Comparing the incident with the Delhi gangrape of 2012, the Congress said criminal cases should also be registered against police officials for their negligence. “When police behave in such a manner with their own colleagues, one can imagine what must be happening to the common man,’’ Congress spokesman K K Mishra said.