On a day the Gujarat High Court told the state government that it was “duty bound” to probe the gangrape case in a manner satisfactory to the 22-year-old “victim”, who had filed a petition seeking a court-monitored probe by an independent agency, senior police officer J K Bhatt withdrew from the investigation.
Last Thursday, the 22-year-old had filed a complaint with Satellite Police Station in Ahmedabad, alleging that she was abducted and gangraped in a moving car by four masked men, three months ago. On Sunday, she had accused Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) J K Bhatt of threatening her during questioning and asking inappropriate questions.
While hearing her petition for a “fair probe” on Monday, Justice R P Dholaria told government pleader Mitesh Amin: “It is a serious offence. You look into it. You are duty bound for a fair probe and it should satisfy the victim. You notify your officers about it since the purpose is fair and prompt probe.”
The court, which will hear the matter on Tuesday, also told the government that “instead of making it a public issue, you find a way out and necessary direction may be given to the concerned officers”.
Earlier during the hearing, the woman’s lawyer told the court that the police, which filed the FIR only after several attempts, did not record her client’s statement before a magistrate as per the Supreme Court’s guidelines. “Police treated the victim as if she had committed an offence… All the evidence have been given to the police still they don’t believe the victim. As a matter of fact, the accused is a headstrong person who is politically well-connected. That’s the reason why we want a probe by an independent agency,” her lawyer told the court, adding that the police also did not conduct the medical examination on time.
However, the government pleader defended the police action, saying: “The investigating officer (IO) had gone to the magistrate to seek time for recording the statement as per the procedure where the application is pending. It is not the fault of the IO.”
Later in the day, Ahmedabad Police Commissioner A K Singh issued a statement, saying that Bhatt has opted out of the investigation. “He (Bhatt) wanted to be kept away because of the allegations by the victim. I have allowed him to opt out,” Singh told The Indian Express.
Singh said that further investigation in the case will now be carried out by a special team under his supervision. To ensure that the victim does not feel uncomfortable during the investigations, Deputy Commissioner of Police Shweta Shrimali has been asked to join the probe, he said. Other members of the team are DCP (Crime) Deepan Bhadran and Additional DCP of Women police, Panna Momaya. Both of them were assisting Bhatt in the probe earlier.
On Sunday, the girl accused Bhatt of asking her indecent questions and pressured her to alter the FIR into a case of cheating. She said that Bhatt during questioning told her that a “wood inserted in the private part doesn’t amount to rape”.
While police claimed to have detained two persons, including the main accused, and another girl for questioning, no one has been arrested yet. In her complaint with the police on June 28, the woman had claimed that four unidentified persons wearing masks had abducted her from Nehrunagar area of the city in March this year in an SUV and that two of them raped her and filmed the act to blackmail her.
The woman had also stated that she was abducted again in the same SUV by three of the four accused on the night of June 27 from Maninagar area and molested her before letting her go. While releasing her, one of the accused had told her that she was raped and molested at the instance of her boyfriend, the complaint stated. Police had booked seven persons, including two women and the boyfriend of the victim , under different sections of the IPC including abduction and rape.
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