Amid allegations that two Dalit girls were raped by a dozen personnel in custody at a police post in Sonipat in July this year, the Haryana Police have formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter. According to the police, a judicial magistrate, after inquiring into the matter, had recommended a probe by a senior IPS officer.
The SIT led by Sonipat ASP Nikita has initiated the probe, SP Jashandeep Singh Randhawa said Tuesday. “She is investigating the matter. We understand the sensitivity of the case and seriousness of the allegations,” Randhawa added.
On the other hand, a Chandigarh-based group Bekhauf Azaadi Tuesday released a fact-finding report expressing concerns over the alleged gangrape and the manner in which the matter was handled after the incident. Group’s convener Arpan and mother of the two girls were present when the fact-finding report was released in Chandigarh.
According to its report, one of the girls was 17 years old when the alleged incident of gangrape had taken place while the other girl, her cousin, was 19 years old. They were taken in custody in connection with their alleged role in the murder of two policemen near Butana village of Sonipat district in the night of June 30.
The minor girl was taken to Butana police post on July 2. “When I went to meet her in jail on July 18, she said that she and her cousin were raped by 10-12 policemen in custody,” the minor girl’s mother had told the police. On her complaint, an FIR was lodged in which three policemen were named too.
A constable Ravinder and SPO (special police officer) Kaptan Singh of Butana police post were killed on the night of June 30. According to the fact-finding report that night the two girls had gone to meet four men who had travelled to Sonipat from Jind. “This group of four men and two girls were at Hariyali Park when the two officials, who were on their night patrol, came across them at midnight. One of the girls was with Amit in a car and the others were standing at a considerable distance. The police officials tried to extort money from Amit and the girl on the pretext that they were found alone in a car at midnight. Then the two police officials addressed Amit to say that he should send the girl to the police station for the night… After heated exchange and argument, Amit who was carrying a knife killed the police officials on the spot,” claimed the fact-finding report.
However, the police claimed that Amit and the girl “were found in a compromising position and consuming alcohol at a public place when they were stopped by police riders; the police personnel were brutally stabbed to death.”
Later, Amit was killed in a police encounter in Jind.
According to the fact-finding report, the mother of minor daughter took her and the other girl to the Butana police post to surrender “knowing that the girls were not a part of the murder and to clarify that they were merely present with Amit that night”.
“On July 2, the mother stayed with the girls at the police post after which she was asked to leave. The mother was harassed and slapped around when she was at the chowki. The next day, no one from the family of girls was allowed to be present at the chowki. The minor has alleged that 10-12 police officials raped her, physically abused her, and used foreign objects to insert in her vagina. They also used castiest and vulgar language against the girls. They stripped the (minor) survivor’s cousin and brutally assaulted her as well. The police took the two girls under remand in Baroda police station on July 4 and 5. These gruesome acts and sexual abuse continued in the police station as well,” claimed the Bekhauf Azaadi report, prepared by five-member team comprising women activists and lawyers after investigating the matter.
On July 6, both were sent to Karnal jail. “When the mother tried to meet her in Karnal jail on July 15, she was not allowed. The prison administration informed the mother that her daughter had been continuously bleeding since she had been brought to prison. On July 18, the mother was allowed to meet the survivor who told her about the incidents that took place at Butana police chowki and Baroda police station. On the same day, the mother gave a written complaint to the SHO of Baroda police station and a complaint was filed to the court when no action was taken in the matter,” mentioned the report.
On July 30, the police lodged an FIR under section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offence Act, 2012, section 376 (2)(a) and 376 -D of the IPC.
The report claimed that one of the accused named in the FIR even tried to intimidate and threaten the family members of the survivor when they refused to affix any signature on blank papers. According to the report, a police official claimed that a woman police official was, at all times, present with the girls at the time of their custody but added that such women police official concerned have been transferred from the police station now.
On the other hand, Sonipat SP said, “At the time of girls’ arrest, they were medically examined by the doctors. At the time of their production in the court, they did not make any complaint. When they were sent to judicial custody, they were again examined by the doctors but they did not complain anything. After 10 days in the judicial custody, they were again medically examined but they did not complain about any rape. It was only after two weeks of the arrest, they gave this complaint. We are investigating the matter from all angles.”
However, the fact-finding team has mentioned that a woman, who had been lodged in the same barracks as the girls in Karnal jail, had contacted the family members of the minor survivor after her release. “She has stated that the girls are grievously injured and the survivor needs immediate medical attention.” Raising questions regarding the medical examination process, the report has claimed that the first medical examination was conducted under the surveillance of those who are accused of sexual violence. “We believe that a medical examination conducted in the presence of the accused police officials… must be considered tainted. It should also be noted that the reports of medical examination have yet not been provided to the lawyers of the survivor,” mentioned the report.
According to the report, the survivors should be given immediate medical treatment apart from ensuring their safety inside the prison. “The survivors’ medical examination should be conducted at AIIMS, New Delhi or PGI, Chandigarh at the earliest.”
According to the women’s group, the National Human Rights Commission, the National Commission for Women and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights should hold their own independent inquiry into the matter. “All those accused of the sexual violence should be prosecuted under relevant sections of the IPC and the SC and ST (prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989,” added the women group.
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