Four months after a 23-year-old woman was gangraped inside a bus in South Delhi in December 2012, another case shook the national capital — the gangrape of a five-year-old girl in East Delhi. A lackadaisical approach by police and a shoddy investigation added to the city’s simmering anger over the crime.
On Saturday, the two accused — Manoj Shah and Pradeep Kumar — were convicted by a Delhi court for raping the child in April 2013. Following the verdict, a senior police officer who investigated the case admitted there was “pressure on police after details of the shoddy investigation made headlines”.
The SHO and investigating officer of the case had been suspended following the crime, after police failed to do a “proper spot visit”.
An officer said, “The child went missing on April 15 and police filed an FIR only past midnight after making her parents wait for hours. The child was found two days later in a ground floor room under her house, after neighbours alerted her mother about sounds of a child wailing.”
In 2013, the then Commissioner of Police Neeraj Kumar had said police did not look for the child in the building, “as it was locked… No one broke the lock and the family did not express suspicion about the accused”.
The child was found alive and rushed to a hospital where “foreign materials were removed from her private parts”. An officer said, “After the incident, the accused fled to Bihar via train, which they boarded from the New Delhi railway station. But before leaving, accused Shah called his family. This helped police trace his location.”
Members of the investigation team recalled how the then CP called the DCP concerned every hour to inquire about the developments. “After we figured out the location, one team flew to Bihar and the other team took a train. The then DCP camped at the special staff office till the first arrest was made on April 20 from Bihar’s Muzaffarpur. Shah was arrested then, and accused Kumar two days later from Barahiya village in Bihar,” said an officer.
During investigation, it was found that Shah had taken up the ground floor room on rent for Rs 400 a month, and on April 15, the two accused decided to party in the room. An officer said, “They went to the market and bought food and liquor, then returned home and watched objectionable videos. Shah then went out to buy groceries and returned home with the child, who was playing outside the building. He had lured the child with Rs 10. After raping her, they left her in the room, thinking she had died.”
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