At least 27 months after an 18-year-old was gangraped at a village in Haryana’s Rewari district, five out of the eight accused are out of jail as they were released on bail, while the victim and her family have been confined to their home and are facing “a kind of social boycott” in their own village. Victim, who is now 21-year-old, and her family say that they are struggling and still waiting for the justice.
Although the state government, after the incident that took place on September 12, 2018, had announced prompt justice to the victim, till date the trial in the case has been moving at a sluggish pace.
Police had registered the FIR against eight accused, on different charges. Chargesheet was filed against eight accused in August, 2020.
While Pankaj, Nishu and Manish were named as the main accused in the FIR, five others including Deen Dayal, Naveen aka Nicku, Dr Sanjeev, Manjit and Abhishek faced different charges. Except for Pankaj, Nishu and Manish, all five are out on bail.
The victim and her family told The Indian Express that the accused who were out on bail had been threatening them 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 at us and even 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.
The victim girl, her mother added, “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,” victim’s mother added.
According to the police, four armed policemen stand guard 24×7 outside victim’s home. However, the victim’s mother told The Indian Express that it was an additional burden on the family. “Initially, there were four policemen but due to Covid and now the ongoing farmer agitation, two men were withdrawn. Now, there are two policemen who guard us. But, their tea, snacks, meals etc. all have to be taken care of by my family. My husband was a kabaddi coach in a private school, but since the schools are shut due to Covid, he is also sitting at home,” she added.
The victim family’s lawyer Karan Singh said that “the three main accused continue to be in jail. The other five who were not facing charges of gangrape, but were booked in the FIR for other offences related to the crime must have got bail from the High Court.” He added that “the former Additional District and Sessions Judge Amit Sharma had heard final arguments of both the sides, but he was transferred out.
His successor is now hearing the case but due to ongoing restrictions in court’s functioning, the case continues to be shifted from one date to another. Even yesterday the case was listed but has again been adjourned to the next date now. Although prosecution has already completed its arguments, it is only the defence that is continuing now.”
Advocate Singh, however, added that the accused who have got bail were not facing the serious charges as the three main accused Pankaj, Nishu and Manish who continue to be behind the bars.
The victim’s family said they were forced to live under constant trauma. “Even if we go out of our home to fetch milk, these accused threaten the milkman and tell him to stop our milk supply. They do the same if we go to buy vegetables, fruits or grocery. We have even stopped going out of the village to our relatives. Nobody wants to be associated with us due to a constant threat from these people who are roaming free,” victim’s mother added.
It was on September 12, 2018 when the crime took place in neighbouring Mahendragarh district’s jurisdiction. The girl, who is now a student graduation final year, had then told the police that Pankaj (whom she already knew) and Manish, both residents of her village, met her near Kosli bus stand when she was going to attend her coaching class for competitive exams.
In her statement to the police at that time, 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 a well in the nearby fields and gave her another sedated drink. She further alleged that then the accused took turns to rape her.
Victim’s mother added, “On December 3, National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma too visited our home in the village and assured us that justice shall soon be delivered. She even instructed the police to ensure adequate safety and security for my daughter and our family. But, these people (accused) continue to pass remarks at us and intimidate whoever even tries to get in touch with us.”
Abhishek Jorwal, SP (Rewari), said, “We have got the CCTV cameras installed at victim’s home. Round-the-clock police security has been provided to the family. The victim’s family wanted she could get a government job anywhere in Panchkula or Ambala so that the family could move out of the village because they do not want to live there. We have taken a request from the girl and forwarded to our superiors. It is a government-level decision. Once this farmer agitation gets over, I shall again pursue the matter with my seniors.”
Jorwal added, “The victim’s mother has my phone number. Last month, NCW chairperson had visited her. I too went there. That time, she did not mention any such harassment from anybody in the village. We are ensuring safety and security of the family, 24×7.”
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