A US resident, who was abducted from Chandigarh and raped near Kharar in 2015, has expressed the inability to come to India this month to record her statement under Section 164 CrPC and identify the accused auto driver, Baldev Kumar. This has put the investigating agency in a tight spot.
“The agency is expected to file a chargesheet against the accused Baldev before March 22. But a chargesheet without the victim’s statement under Section 164 CrPC, which is always recorded before the magistrate, and without the identification of the accused by the victim is considered to be weak. We will have to file the chargesheet within 90 days of the arrest of the accused in a rape case. Baldev was arrested on December 22, 2017. We have exchanged two emails with the woman, but she expressed her inability to come to India in the month of March,” said a senior police officer.
“We have even requested the district court to record the victim’s statement through video conference but it was not accepted. Now, the court has instructed us to approach the victim through the US embassy and we are in the process of doing that. The accused Baldev has already been identified by one Gagandeep Singh of Kurukshetra, who was also travelling in the same auto, boarded by the US woman before ISBT-17.”
The investigating officer, SI Satnam Singh, said, “Baldev is in judicial custody at Model Burail Jail. Our chargesheet is ready. We are in the process of convincing the victim to come to India to record her statement. We are taking the assistance of the legal department to know whether a chargesheet can be filed against the accused in the absence of the victim’s statement. Gagandeep, who is one of the witnesses, has also communicated with the woman through emails.”
The US woman was raped by two accused, Baldev Kumar and his friend Lucky, who is still absconding. The woman had come to India on tourist visa in 2015 and from India, she was scheduled to go to France. At a time when the crime took place, the accused Baldev was driving an auto between Chandigarh and Kharar, and one of his associates, Lucky, was also involved in the crime.
Police said though the crime with the foreigner woman had taken place on April 17, 2015, she had lodged a complaint with Chandigarh Police via email from France in August 2015. A probe was ordered and an FIR registered at Sector 17 police station in November 2016.
Sources said between 2015 and 2017, Baldev shifted to Uttarakhand from Punjab and started driving truck. In her complaint to the police, the woman alleged that she was standing near ISBT, Sector 17, when some auto drivers surrounded her. In the meantime, a man, who was sitting in the auto of Baldev, appeared and communicated with me to know my problem, the complaint added. Later, auto driver Baldev took the American woman to Kharar and allegedly raped her along with his friend, Lucky.