Growing up in a broken home, with her father abandoning the family soon after her birth and her mother a patient of depression for as long as she can remember, a Dalit minor who was allegedly raped by nearly a dozen men for nearly two months is now at a rescue home here. The 15-year-old was rescued a week ago, and remains in shock.
Officials say the girl continued to attend classes through the two months that she was reportedly blackmailed and raped, and even took her Class X examinations. She has said she hopes to continue her studies, according to counsellors at the rescue home.
From what officials have pieced together, the girl was born when her mother, who works as a helper at an anganwadi, was 42. After the father deserted the family, the girl led a lonely life with hardly any interaction with her mother and old grandmother in their small slum house on the margins of the city. She found solace in friends, with whom she was in touch with on her mother’s old mobile, sources said.
According to police, the girl has told them that the main accused, an auto-rickshaw driver named Aamir, contacted her first on this cellphone number, and they became friends. Then, on February 2, Aamir allegedly rang up and called her out to rush over to help as her cousin was engaged in a drunken brawl.
Along with a friend, whom the police have identified as Anoop Shah, Aamir reportedly made the girl sit in an auto-rickshaw and took her to an abandoned area. “The two of them raped, tortured the girl by turns – and both filmed it on their cellphone. They showed her the video and warned her that the videos would be put out on social media if she told anything about the sexual abuse,” a police officer said. While Shah has been arrested along with eight others, Aamir is on the run.
The minor has told police she was abused at least 10 times by several men, mostly at Aamir’s house, in the two months that followed. “At times there were multiple men — if she tried to fight back, they forced her to smoke ganja in bidi or forced liquor down her throat,” a source at the rescue home said. Later, Aamir would reportedly either drop her home or give her money to reach home.
The source at the counselling centre said the girl may have also been tortured with cigarette burns found on her private parts.
The girl claims that since she used to go to dance classes after school and often returned late, her mother did not suspect anything. On the few occasions that she was allegedly forced to stay overnight by Aamir and others, the victim apparently convinced her mother that she was at a friend’s home.
On March 30, the alleged abuse was revealed when Aamir and Shah were seen trying to force the girl to go with three persons, and she resisted. “As the two manhandled her, the victim started screaming, alerting local people, who forced Aamir’s auto-rickshaw to a halt,” the source said. While Aamir and Shah fled, the locals took the girl to police station.
Police said the nine people arrested are all young men engaged in casual jobs or work as drivers.