Three years after a woman accused Ganganagar MP Nihal Chand, now a minister in the Modi government, and 16 others of sexual exploitation, her statement is yet to be recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Calling her allegations baseless, the investigating officer even filed a case closure report.
Now, a Jaipur court, acting on a revision plea, has asked the 17 she accused, including Nihal Chand, to appear in court on August 20. Now 20, she was a minor when she claims she was sexually abused.
From a village in Sirsa in Haryana, she says she married Om Prakash Godara of Pilibanga in Hanumangarh. “A couple of months later, my husband brought me to Jaipur. I always felt drowsy and numb. Months later, I realised my food was being laced with intoxicants. My husband kept watch on me while I ate. One day, I threw away the food when he was not watching. It was then that I discovered I was being sexually exploited by other men. When I confronted my husband, he admitted he was using me to further political and financial interests,” she alleged, speaking to The Indian Express over phone from Sirsa.
Godara has been a member of the BJP Yuva Morcha, Akhil Bharatiya Jat Yuva Mahasabha and the Pilibanga Panchayat Samiti.
“My husband would invite his contacts to our house or escort me somewhere else. I was always locked up. If neighbours got suspicious, he would move to a new house. We changed at least four houses over six months in Jaipur,” she claimed.
“He told me he took money from his contacts for the favour. He had installed CCTV cameras in the house and recorded the encounters. Later, he told me he had made several CDs of the people I have named in my complaint.”
When there was no word from her for a long time, her uncle showed up in Jaipur to check on her. “My father died when I was six years old and my uncle brought me up. He was shocked to see my condition. But he too was beaten up and confined to the house. We somehow managed to slip out. We went straight to our village in Haryana. Over 100 people from my village went to Pilibanga when the panchayat met to discuss the matter. My husband alleged that my uncle had abducted me. But I testified that I wanted to go home and not live with my husband any longer,” she said.
“Since I was mostly drugged, I cannot clearly recall the dates and places. I can identify some of the accused including Nihal Chand. As for the other accused, my husband would tell me their names later. That is how I named them,” she said.
The woman first approached the police in 2011, alleging repeated sexual exploitation by her husband and his contacts. But two police stations — Shyam Nagar and Vaishali Nagar — in Jaipur refused to lodge an FIR, forcing her to move court.
“After the court ordered a police investigation, I was made to sit in the police station and told to forget about the case,” she alleged.
Despite an order by the police commissioner on February 28, 2012 to arrest Godara, no action was taken. A closure report was filed in court, saying the allegations were baseless. The court summoned the accused earlier this year to record their statements and, upholding the closure report by the local police, dismissed the case. The investigating officer stated that the woman could not provide the exact dates and names of places where the incidents took place.
“We have filed a revision petition in court, seeking fair investigation into the matter. In the first complaint, the police carried out absolutely no inquiry. The court had also summoned the accused and their statements were recorded but no investigation was done,” Chandu Ram Yadav, the woman’s lawyer, claimed.
The accused have been asked to appear in court on August 20.
Nihal Chand and Godara could not be reached for comments.
The state BJP leadership has come to Nihal Chand’s defence. Health Minister Rajendra Rathore said: “Investigation in the case against Nihal Chand was held during the previous Congress government and the police had given him a clean chit. The closure report by the police was also upheld by court. Now that Nihal Chand has been appointed Union Minister, the case has been brought up again. This is nothing but a political conspiracy and an attempt to tarnish his image. He will again prove his innocence.”
Former chief minister Ashok Gehlot said: “ I am not aware when the case was filed or how it was investigated. We never discriminated against BJP workers. It was up to the police to investigate and we left it to them.”
Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot, who has demanded the resignation of Nihal Chand, said, “It is not about who was heading the government then. The court has ordered the accused to appear before it… if the judiciary takes cognizance of the issue, we need no explanation…. we have sought the minister’s resignation.”