Three years after an 18-year-old was gangraped at a village in Haryana’s Rewari district, a special court in Narnaul Thursday held three men guilty of the crime while acquitting five others. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced on Friday.
The incident took place on September 12, 2018, when the girl, who earlier that year had cleared the Class 12 exams, was on her way to a coaching centre in neighbouring Mahendragarh district. An FIR was registered against eight persons on different charges and the chargesheet filed against them in August 2020.
Three of them, Pankaj Fauji, Nishu Phogat and Manish were named as main accused and booked under under Sections 328 (forcibily administering intoxicating substances), 365 (kidnapping) and 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Cod. The other five — Deen Dayal, Naveen, Dr Sanjeev, Manjit and Abhishek — were booked under Sections 202, 118 and 216 of the IPC.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Mona Singh convicted Pankaj, Nishu and Manish while acquitting the five others who had been out on bail since January this year.
The crime took place in Mahendragarh district’s jurisdiction. The girl, now a final year graduation student, had then told the police that Pankaj, whom she already knew, and Manish, both residents of her village, met her near Kosli bus stand while she was on way to a coaching class for competitive exams.
In her statement to the police, the victim had said that “Pankaj and Manish offered her a glass of water, after drinking which she fell unconscious”. She added that the accused took her in a car to the nearby fields, and after she gained consciousness, they gave her another sedative-laced drink. She further alleged that then the accused took turns to rape her. She had told police that the accused subsequently informed her parents about her location. Her family members approached the police, but no action was taken.
Later, a zero FIR was registered in Rewari and handed over to Kanina police station. Amid allegations of inaction, the Rewari police station in-charge and Kanina police station incharge were placed under suspension. Rewari’s the superintendent of police, Rajesh Duggal, was also transferred out.
In January this year, the victim’s mother had alleged that her family had been boycotted by the village.
Living in an isolation and confined to their home, the victim and her parents had been under constant police security cover. Victim’s father had to leave his job.
Ten police personnel continue to guard the victim’s residence in shifts. They are also supposed to accompany the victim to the court hearings, but her mother alleged that the security personnel always show reluctance in doing so.
“Today also, when the verdict was to be pronounced, I kept requesting the personnel sitting outside my house in the village to accompany me to the court. Eventually, only one of them accompanied me to the court,” the victim’s mother told The Indian Express while she was on her way to the court.
“There is always a threat because the accused in the case are extremely powerful and can harm me or my daughter,” she further said, adding that accused had been threatening her family with dire consequences if they do not withdraw the case.
“Ever since that fateful day, we have been living in a constant fear while the accused had been freely moving around the village and threatening us, passing remarks and intimidating all those with whom we used to be in touch. We have been totally isolated and confined to our home. We cannot even step out,” victim’s mother told The Indian Express.
She said her daughter “had not been able to step out of the home, on her own, since that day”.
“We are in a constant fear that if she goes out, these people (accused) would attack her,” she added.