Police have been deployed in a Muzaffarnagar village in western Uttar Pradesh after a video of an alleged gangrape of a woman in 2013 was circulated on WhatsApp. The woman, who got married in 2014, has lodged an FIR naming six accused. She claimed that she was being blackmailed, and her marriage had ended as a result.
Two of the accused were arrested and sent to jail after being produced before a local court Monday.
Tension mounted in Khatauli after local BJP leader Virendra Singh, jailed in 2013 for calling a mahapanchayat before the Muzaffarnagar riots, threatened to call another gathering if police did not act. He met the Muzaffarnagar SSP along with the woman’s father and said, “If police fail to initiate action, we will hold a mahapanchayat again.” Singh also demanded that the National Security Act be invoked against the accused.
SSP K B Singh described the situation as “serious” and said efforts were on to gather evidence against the accused.
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This comes a week after a 40-year-old health worker from Muzaffarnagar committed suicide after a video of her alleged rape was circulated on WhatsApp.
In the FIR filed at Khatauli police station, the woman has accused two youths from her village — Irshad and Nazar Mohammad — of rape and criminal intimidation. In her statement before a magistrate, she accused four others — Sajid, Sattar, Salauddin and Naushad — of gangrape. She recorded her statement before the court Saturday.
“I have been harassed by these youths for the last three years, during which they sexually assaulted me several times. They also took Rs 50,000 in installments, threatening to circulate the video. Last month, they demanded Rs 1 lakh and when I could not pay, they circulated the video on WhatsApp,” the woman, a postgraduate, told The Indian Express.
“Police should take strict action against them. They ruined my married life. When I was living at my husband’s place, they used to call me regularly and force me to meet them. They even started visiting the village of my in-laws. Fearing that they could go to any extent, I left my in-laws’ house around one year ago and started staying with my parents. My husband has filed for divorce and the matter is pending in court,” she added.
Recounting the alleged rape, she said, “The incident happened in 2013. Irshad met me at a bus stop near my college and administered some sedatives while talking to me. I became unconscious and later found myself in a hotel room, where he and the others raped me. He then let me go home and, the next day, told me that they had made a video of the rape. They started harassing me. I did not disclose it to my family fearing it would lead to trouble.”
The woman’s father, a farmer, said he and his family would “commit suicide” if police fail to act.
Police have, meanwhile, started checking cellphones of residents in the village. They have also sealed three mobile phone shops and three computer shops, where videos can be copied and sold.
“We will initiate further action on the basis of the victim’s statement recorded before the magistrate on Saturday. Police have taken action against shopkeepers because they were involved in circulating and downloading porn videos,” said Khatauli police station SHO Sanjeev Sharma.
Circle Officer, Khatauli area, Jogendra Lal said, “So far, cellphones of several locals have been checked. Senior citizens from the village requested the police to help them erase the video from people’s phones.”
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