A 30-year-old woman was gang-raped by six men in Anugul district of Odisha on Thursday after she was ‘mistakenly abandoned’ by her husband late in the night in the middle of their journey. She was found in Jagatsinghpur district, late Sunday evening.
She was missing since Thursday and was feared dead. Police sources in Anugul say that on Sunday night they found her staying with relatives in Jagatsinghpur. While Jagatsinghpur is about 150 kms away from Anugul, police say they are “digging details on how the woman covered the distance in her traumatized state”.
“We are yet to record a statement from the victim, but we can confirm the events that led to the gang-rape”, said a senior police officer from the district.
A husband, wife and their daughter, residents of Sambalpur district, were on their way to Cuttack. The husband was driving, while his daughter, aged 6, was seated next to him and the wife was in the backseat.
“Roughly around 10 pm, at Nakchi village in Anugul district, the wife requested the husband to stop their car so she could relieve herself on the roadside”, said the police officer. “She returned to the car to collect the water bottle in the back seat of the car to wash her hands. After taking the bottle, she closed the car door. Thinking his wife was seated, the husband drove away”.
“After covering a distance of around 17 kilometers, the husband stopped his car at a shop in Boinda to buy some chocolates for the daughter. He was allegedly still unaware that he had left his wife behind. On returning to the car, he discovered the back seat was empty, but assumed his wife had stepped out to buy something”.
“After waiting awhile, he became worried and searched for his wife at the Boinda marketplace. Failing to find her, he decided to return to Nakchi when he had last spoken with his wife. Unable to locate his wife, the husband drove between Nakchi and Boinda several times and then alerted the Hadapa police station”, the officer concluded.
The police swung into action, but could not locate the wife for three days. It is not clear why neither the victim nor her relatives in Jagatsinghpur immediately contacted the husband or the police. Earlier on Sunday, the woman’s brother-in-law had issued an appeal through the press to locate her.
Meanwhile, Anugul police were tipped about witnesses who claimed they saw a scene where a woman walking alone in the night on the NH-55 highway was lifted into an auto-rickshaw by around six men.
Anugul police has detained four men in connection with their investigation of gang rape they say seem likely to have gang-raped the woman.