On Sunday night at around 10 pm, a 19-year-old girl from Haryana was returning to her relative’s house in Shimla’s Bhattakufar area, when she was allegedly pulled into a car and was raped by three persons. However, two days after the incident, the police, which failed to arrest any of the three culprits even on Tuesday, remained tight-lipped about the incident.
The girl, who was taking coaching for a medical entrance examination in Shimla, resided with her maternal aunt in the Bhattakufar area. Earlier on April 17, she had taken a lift in a car where she was allegedly molested by the car owner. On Sunday at around 6 pm, she approached the police at the Lakkar Bazar police post to ask how she could report the incident of molestation. The police asked her to report the incident in the Dhalli police station and gave her the “Gudiya helpline” number to report the incident.
“The police at Lakkar Bazar was not of much help. They didn’t understand that she was scared that something wrong could be done to her,” a highly placed source in the police department, who did not wish to be named, told The Indian Express, adding that the girl did not tell her parents of the molestation incident since she was scared that if her parents heard about the incident, they would ask her to return to Haryana.
In her statement to the police, the girl said that while she was returning home on Sunday, at around 10 pm, when she was allegedly dragged into a car and was allegedly raped in a moving car in the Bhattakufar area. The girl was then left on the road with her clothes torn. After the incident she called few of her friends and reported the incident on the “Gudiya helpline” number, she said in her statement to the police.
“She does not know the people who raped her, but she can recognize them since they had molested her earlier (on April 17) and were stalking her, according to what she has told us,” the source said. The medical tests that were done prove that she was raped, police sources said. However, there are gaps in the narrative that she has presented to the police, and the police are trying to connect the dots.
On Tuesday, one of the male friends who, she claims, brought her clothes after the incident, was questioned by the police.
Himachal Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Sita Ram Mardi, who refrained from divulging details of the incident even as no arrests of accused had been made till Tuesday night, said, “We don’t want to disclose anything since it will hamper our investigation. We have ordered a magisterial probe on the information that she had approached the police (at Lakkar Bazar but didn’t receive much help from the police there). I will wait for the report to come out before making further statements.”
Also, an eight-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Additional Superintendent of Police (City), Shimla, Parveer Thakur was formed on Tuesday, to carry out the investigation on the case “on priority” and “complete the investigation at the earliest”.
On Tuesday, at the Dhalli police station where an FIR on the incident was filed on Monday, the girl, who did not wish to speak to the media, looked agitated over the incident being reported in the media. Her brother who had come to Shimla from Haryana after being informed by the police on the alleged rape also refrained from speaking to the media. In 2017, the state police had faced flak for carrying out a lax probe into the rape and murder of a minor in Shimla district’s Kotkhai area. The case, in which a 16-year-old student of Class 10 was raped and murdered in the Tandi forest near Halaila village in Kotkhai, had become a major political issue in the state. With the latest incident happening just as the state gets ready to vote in the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls, it could become a major poll issue.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said, “It is a very unfortunate incident. I have ordered the police to expedite the inquiry. However, I’m not satisfied with the police probe so I will now look into the matter personally.”
On Tuesday, the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) held a protest in Shimla city on the matter. HPCC president Kuldeep Singh Rathore said, “The girl approached the police for help but help was not provided. What could be a bigger proof of the inaction of the police than this?” “While the BJP claims that women are safe in the state, the incident is a proof of the failure of the BJP government in the state,” Rathore said. The BJP Mahila Morcha submitted a memorandum to the Shimla Deputy Commissioner Rajeshwar Goel on Tuesday demanding swift action against the culprits.