Days after reports that several women were “raped” in Murthal, during the Jat quota protest on February 22, some eyewitnesses have recounted how a group of men “misbehaved” with a few women near the area.
The incident is reported to have occurred on NH-1, near Sukhdev Dhaba.
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Niranjan Singh, a truck owner-cum-driver, said his truck was torched by the mob on Monday afternoon, near Apollo International School in Barhi village on the highway, nearly four kilometres from the spot were the rape is alleged to have taken place. He said at around 11:30 am, when he was standing near his truck, he saw a few motorcycle-borne men harassing some women.
“A few women were walking near the school. These men told them to take a detour to avoid being beaten by the mob. When they took another path, these men started harassing the women,” said Singh, a resident of Pathankot.
“These men touched the women. At first, they snatched their jewellery and their bags. They then started pushing the women… one of them also slapped a woman. The women started screaming,” said Singh.
“I walked away from the place… I don’t know if those women escaped unharmed,” he said.
In Jalandhar, Satbir Singh Satti, who was driving from Chandigarh to Delhi on the night of February 21-22, claimed he saw some women who were running after abandoning their vehicles. A few of the women who could not run were “picked up” by some people, he said. “But I don’t know who they were and what happened later,” he said.
“At Murthal, a mob was stopping vehicles and attacking them. There were 100-150 vehicles,” said Satti, who was taking an NRI relative to the Delhi airport. “We left our vehicle and started running. We met two more women and a girl who were going to the airport. They were running barefeet, and had not even stopped to grab their footwear or passports,” he said.
Mohammad Shahin, who was heading back to Delhi from Panipat on Monday morning, said his vehicle was also torched near the area. “As soon as we crossed Sukhdev Dhaba, a few people started pelting stones. One of them hit my car with an iron rod… I rushed out and saw a man throwing a petrol bomb at my car. I escaped somehow,” he said.
He recounted that he and a few other men ran towards the field while most of the women ran towards the nearby dhabas. He said almost everyone in the mob was drunk. “I did not see them sexually assaulting any women but the mob was out of control,” he said.
“They threw stones at everyone… One woman was hurt. She started bleeding and was screaming,” said Manish Sharma, whose vehicle was also torched. He claimed that someone in the mob also started firing. “We managed to rush to a nearby dhaba,” said Sharma. The Haryana Police claimed that they had received no rape complaints so far.
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