More than 20 teams of the Vadodara police are on the lookout for two accused who allegedly assaulted and gangraped a minor in the deserted Navlakhi ground Thursday. The police have deployed drones to survey the area that has an undulated landscape.
Though the accused are yet to be identified, the police have released sketches of the men based on the description given by the survivor and her friend who was accompanying her.
On Friday afternoon, police visited the spot where the incident took place. The spot, which is part of the royal estate belonging to the Gaekwad family, but accessible to public, has also been identified by the girl, police added.
In her complaint, the girl has said that she visited the Khanqah-e-Aliya Rafaiya Dargah with her friend on Thursday evening and then decided to go to Navlakhi ground for a stroll. It was here that they were allegedly accosted by two men, who assaulted her friend and ‘chased’ her for over 800 metres before taking turns to rape her.
Police FIR states that the incident took place between 8.15 pm and 11 pm on Thursday until a PCR van of the Vadodara police arrived at the spot to rescue the girl. The accused, according to the girl, fled the spot when they realised that the PCR had arrived.
Police said that the survivor’s friend has said in his statement that he tried to seek help from people inside the Navlakhi compound, including a family that resides there before deciding to call friends for help. Incidentally, the Central Command and Control Center of city, which also includes the control room, is located diagonally across the Navlakhi ground.
According to Commissioner of Police Anupam Singh Gahlaut, the girl is close to turning 15 while her friend is 19 years old. “The boy has told us that he tried to call the police control room right after the men dragged away the girl but he was not able to connect. He then ran towards the crowded areas of Navlakhi to seek help but he claimed that nobody responded to his request. He also sought help from a family that resides within the compound who then called the police control. Meanwhile, the boy claimed that he ran out to the main road and spotted a PCR van. He narrated the incident to the police and the PCR van accompanied him to the compound to rescue the girl. The other PCR van also arrived almost immediately in response to the call made by the family. Most of us heard the message on the wireless and almost immediately all my senior officers and investigation teams were at the spot.”
“The compound is so vast and dense with wild shrubs and trees and several breaches that there are countless escape routes. We have used a drone to study the routes that could have been used by the accused to exit the ground last night when the PCR vans arrived. The investigation is open and we are probing all angles. We have also confirmed with the family of the girl if they were aware about her friend. They have confirmed that the two intend to eventually marry and it was a regular outing,” Gahlaut added.
The police have booked the unidentified accused under IPC section 325 (grievous hurt), 363 (kidnapping), 376 (2) (I) (N) (rape), 376 (D) (gang rape), 377 (unnatural offences), and under relevant sections of the Gujarat Police Act and the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The case was registered at the Raopura police station in the wee hours of Friday, after a medical examination confirmed rape, the police said.
The girl was discharged from the hospital on Friday evening and is said to have sustained injuries in her private parts. The boy was administered first aid and discharged Friday early morning.
Sandeep Choudhary, DCP Zone 2, said, “We have identified the exact place where the incident took place. We have activated our informers, but we are yet to get any leads on the accused.”