When two 20-year-old women rented a house in a village in Ranchi’s Dhurva area, their neighbours hardly paid any notice. But, after one of them alleged she was gang-raped by eight young men of the village, including minors, they have become the target of villagers’ anger.
Police say they received a call at night last week, informing them that a woman was crying near Jagannathpur Talab. “When we reached there, the girl narrated her ordeal. An FIR was registered. We conducted raids and arrested seven accused. A search for the eighth is on. She told us she was with a friend, when the accused spotted them, assaulted her friend, who fled, and allegedly gang-raped her,” said circle inspector Talkeshwar Ram.
A medical examination has been conducted and the woman has been taken to her maternal grandfather, said police. They said they would record the statement of her friend and make him a witness. Those arrested include Sanjay Kachhap, 25, Sadhan Khalko, 23, and Adarsh Munda, 20, besides two 18-year-olds and two minors. The eighth accused, who is absconding, is a minor.
At the village of about 150 homes, a woman who described herself a relative of one of the accused hit out at his accuser: “Our village’s image was spotless, until now. What kind of girl goes to meet her friend at a desolate place after dark?”
It has emerged that the two women had left their homes in Khunti without telling their parents. They had started staying in Dhurva in mid-January.
The friend with whom the alleged rape victim went near the pond that evening was their neighbour. At his home, his sister said: “Our mother died two years ago. My brother works with a tent house, while my father pulls a rickshaw. They are out on work.”
According to police, the youth, aged around 20, returned home after he was allegedly assaulted and went to sleep without telling anyone. He, like some of the accused, had drunk that evening, police said, adding that the woman had not consumed alcohol.
The woman’s roommate said, “We came here to pursue studies and work. I have done my graduation, she was studying for BA.”
Asked about the incident, she said: “How do I know what happened? I met her after the incident. She seemed all right. When police started coming, I suggested she withdraw the case. I wanted nothing to do with police.”
A villager, claiming to be a parent of one of the accused, said, “They are hiding information. They are not of good character.” The roommate retorted, “If she was meeting somebody, am I responsible?” Asked why the two left their homes, she said, “Just like that.”
Investigations have revealed that the woman who alleged rape had left her parents’ home long ago. “She lived with her maternal grandfather. He told us she fled a couple of months ago,” said circle inspector Ram.