The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Monday dismissed two habeas corpus petitions filed in connection with the alleged rape of two tribal women from Chhattisgarh by Gadchiroli police commandos, after the “victims” told the court that the accused did not commit the crime. Appearing before the bench in the judges’ chamber, they also said they were forced to make the allegations by one Sheela, wife of activist Sainu Gota. Sheela and Sainu have been arrested.
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In the initial complaint filed in the case, it was alleged that the commandos detained the women and raped them on the intervening night of January 20 and 21.
The bench of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indira Jain took up the two petitions on Monday, a day after a bench of Justice B P Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi issued directions to keep the two women at a correction home till the regular bench heard the petitions. Sunday’s urgent hearing was prompted by the second habeas corpus filed by lawyer Nihal Singh Rathod on Saturday after the Gadchiroli police arrested the Gota couple and took the women in their custody.
On Monday, the complainant’s lawyer Gayatri Singh claimed that the two women were in fear of the police and would not be able to speak the truth. She also claimed that the two were abducted by police from the lawyer’s chamber in Nagpur. The judges then decided to call the women to their chamber where they were asked about the allegations in the presence of the lawyers as well as the brother and uncle of one of them. “To a pertinent query made with the two women as to whether the allegations made in the petition that they were physically molested by police persons is correct or not, both the women emphatically denied any such act on the part of the police. On the contrary, they state that they were compelled by Sheela Gota i.e. Sarpanch of Gatta taluka Etapalli, district Gadchiroli, to inform the petitioner about a incident which never took place,” the bench said in its ruling.