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It took two months for these rape victims to shed fear

The girls trusted none. After they saw on TV the main accused being taken away in handcuffs they felt they were in safe hands.

Written by SUKANYA SHANTHA |
March 21, 2013 1:22:55 am

The girls trusted none. After they saw on TV the main accused being taken away in handcuffs they felt they were in safe hands.

Colouring books,music,gifts,and sustained counselling for over two months helped investigating officers to slowly get 19 minor girls,most of them mentally and physically challenged,to convey to them the four years of torture they were subjected to at an orphanage in Kalamboli.

According to the prosecution,11 of the 19 inmates of the Kalyani Mahila Bal Seva Sanstha orphanage were gangraped and tortured for over four years. A child had also died.

“The children were horrified. They believed in no one. They were too scared to open up. It took us months of persuasion and cajoling to get the kids to speak,” said Rashmi Karandikar,investigating officer in the case and Superintendent,Maharashtra Highway Police.

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Karandikar said that only after the girls saw on TV the main accused Ramchandra Karanjule being handcuffed and taken away were they finally sure they were in safe hands.

As most victims were slow learners and found it difficult to articulate,investigators had to rely on a rudimentary sign language the children knew. “None of them was trained. They did not know the conventional way of communication. For instance they would indicate a cap for police inspector or a lathi. Offenders were indicated by physical attributes. We had to learn their ways of communication,” Karandikar added.

At the time of their deposition,the victims were aided by two translators,who had over a period of time understood their ways. The victims’ narrations were communicated through these translators.

Public Prosecutor Rohini Salian said the apex court’s Sakhshi guidelines (protocols related to cases of child rape) were followed at the time of the deposition. “Children were kept towards one side and blinds were put up so that they did not face the accused. They were made to feel comfortable and the girls deposed brilliantly,” Salian said.

While Karandikar said the case was very sensitively handled,she expressed concern about what would happen to the children now. “Rape law also speaks of rehabilitation. The State should ensure some kind of vocational training for the victims. Some of them just need basic training to be independent,” Karandikar added.

The accused had tried to suggest personal enmity with investigators,the victims’ “weak” character and a political game as lines of defence.

“They asked harrowing questions to victims. We hope some guidelines are introduced to ensure the victims are dealt with sensitively in the court,” Karandikar added.

A non-congizable case has been registered at Mankhurd police station against the accused for intimidating a superintendent at a shelter home where the victims are lodged at present.

“Even while the trial was on,the accused tried intimidating victims against deposing,” Karandikar said.

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