A 15-year-old schoolgirl has complained to police in Thane district that she was raped by 33 people including two minors at different places in Thane over the past eight months.
Police have arrested 24 youths and detained the two minor boys.
“We have arrested a total of 26 people including two minors. Twenty-four of them were produced in a local court. Twenty-two of them were remanded in police custody until September 29, and the two minors were sent to a juvenile home,” Sachin Gunjal, deputy commissioner of police (Zone 3), said.
Police are looking for the rest of the accused, Gunjal said. A special investigation team (SIT) headed by a woman officer of the rank of assistant commissioner of police has been constituted to probe the case.
According to police, the victim became friends with one of the accused minors on social media. He allegedly assaulted her sexually in January, and recorded the act on his mobile phone.
This video was used to blackmail the girl, who was then forced to meet with the other accused, who raped her on multiple occasions at various locations, police said.
The alleged crime came to light recently after an aunt of the victim felt her personality had changed, and suspected she was under duress. Upon being prodded, the victim narrated her ordeal, police said.
According to police officials, the family consulted a social worker in their area, who advised them to try to catch the men who were exploiting the girl red-handed.
Nudged by her family, the girl called one of the accused to a particular spot on Wednesday, and got into a vehicle. The family followed in an autorickshaw. However, the auto broke down after travelling some distance. It was then that the family called police.
The girl had managed to send her GPS location to her family, and police used it to locate her. They rescued the girl, and arrested the two men who were with her. However, the girl had by then been sexually assaulted again.
Police sent the girl for a medical examination. They registered an FIR, recorded her statement, and started rounding up the other accused.
All the 33 accused named by the girl are in the age group of 16-23 years. She has said that she was first assaulted on January 29, according to the FIR registered on Wednesday night.
The FIR has been registered under Sections 376 (rape), 376 (n) (repeated rape), 376 (d) (gangrape), and 376 (3) (rape on a woman under sixteen years of age) of the Indian Penal Code, and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, police said.
Eknath Shinde, guardian minister of Thane district who is also the state urban development minister, said he has asked the Thane police commissioner to take strict action against all the accused.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines