Three days after the alleged rape of a seven-year-old girl, which triggered communal tension in Jaipur, the Congress government Thursday extended internet curbs in parts of the walled city by 24 hours to keep the “sensitive” situation under control. Police have detained at least three suspects for the rape. “But we have not arrested any of them yet as our investigation is still on,” said Jaipur Police Commissioner Anand Shrivastava.
According to police, the child was picked up around 7.30 pm Monday from near her home by an unidentified youth on a motorcycle, who raped her before dropping her back after two hours.
Hours later, the incident took a communal turn as a mob demanding the arrest of the accused targetted a number of homes and damaged over 60 vehicles, while pelting stones and clashing with police.
On Tuesday morning, local residents whose vehicles and homes were damaged gheraoed the local police station, along with the BJP’s Jaipur chief Mohan Lal Gupta, and demanded action against the vandals. Subsequently, police arrested 16 persons for vandalism and arson and released them on bail Thursday.
Police officers say they suspect the culprit may be a serial offender, with a similar case of a bike-borne person taking away a child having taken place on June 22 within the same police station limits. CCTV footage of Monday’s incident shows the accused taking the child on his motorcycle. The child is seen holding on from behind but the accused’s face is not visible in the footage.
With rumours on social media fuelling tension in parts of Jaipur, the girl’s father appealed to local residents to ignore “false news”. “I would request all Jaipur citizens that the rumour which is doing the rounds in Jaipur that the child has passed away… the child is okay, is walking and talking. I request all Jaipur citizens not to indulge in rumour mongering. And as for the culprit, I would request the police to arrest him at the earliest and take the strictest action against him,” he said.
On Thursday, Jaipur Divisional Commissioner Kailash Chand Verma extended curbs on internet services within 13 police station limits till 10 am Friday. “The situation is still sensitive, hence we are taking precautions,” Police Commissioner Shrivastava said.
Six police companies, including the Rajasthan Armed Constabulary (RAC), continue to be deployed in the tense localities though markets returned to normalcy.
On Tuesday, the girl’s father was handed a cheque of Rs 5 lakh from the CM’s Relief Fund by Congress leaders, with Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot visiting the family in the state-run hospital the next night.
Meanwhile, the case has triggered a political war of words. Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Gulabchand Kataria, Deputy Leader of Opposition Rajendra Rathore and former minister Arun Chaturvedi met the Police Commissioner and demanded “strict action against the mob, which had… indulged in arson and tried to give a communal colour to the rape”.
Transport Minister and state Congress spokesperson Pratap Singh Khachariyawas, however, accused the BJP of trying to gain political mileage from the incident.