The Bhiwandi police in Thane arrested three teenagers late on Sunday evening for allegedly sexually assaulting a 7-year-old and allegedly setting him on fire after the assault.
The police have identified the accused as Gangaram Katta, Ganesh Yadav, Vishal Malwanakar, all of whom are 18-year-olds and are believed to have known the victim as they used to live in the same locality.
“The incident took place at around 11 am on April 4 when the victim was lured by the accused with the promise of a meal on the day of Hanuman Jayanthi celebrations on April 4. The accused are known burglars in the area and were aware which room in the area would be vacant,” said N T Rode, senior police inspector, Bhiwandi police.
Rode said that the victim was taken to an abandoned powerloom in the locality and was sexually assaulted by the trio.
“In order to prevent the victim from reporting the incident to the police, the trio put some flammable wastage material that they found in the room on the victim and set him on fire. The three accused ran out of the room after locking the victim inside,” Rode added.
Within a few minutes, residents of the area smelled smoke and came out of their houses to investigate. On seeing the smoke emanating from the powerloom, they doused the fire, rushed the victim to a local hospital and also informed the police about the incident, said officers.
“The boy was rushed to a government hospital and is now stable. Although, he is still traumatized by the events, he gave us a statement on Saturday,” said a police officer with the Bhiwandi police.
The police said that the victim suffered 30 percent burns over his body and his abdomen was the worst affected.
Based on the statement given by the victim, as well as statements from several residents of the locality who saw the trio fleeing from the scene minutes after the fire broke out, the police identified and set about tracing the trio. The police first nabbed Katta, and his interrogation led them to the other two accused, said officers. The Bhiwandi police has charged the accused for sodomy, attempt to murder, kidnapping, wrongful confinement under the Indian Penal Code and under multiple relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
Officers said that there have been several instances in the past when the trio were caught for small crimes like theft and robbery, and were let off with a warning or a fine as they were minors. This was the first time that they committed a serious offence, the police said.
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