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Abandoned by family when she was just 7,raped at new home

She was only seven years old when a relative left her with the Missionaries of Charity in Delhi on December 28,1998....

She was only seven years old when a relative left her with the Missionaries of Charity in Delhi on December 28,1998. Official records list her date of birth as December 8,1991. That makes her about 18 years old today,but she has the IQ of a nine-year-old.

Shifted to the Missionaries of Charity in Sector 23,Chandigarh,a day after their Delhi branch took her in,she remained there for the next few years,till she ran away in March 2005,reportedly after a fight with one of the inmates.

She was found a few days later,and taken to the state-run Nari Niketan in Sector 26,Chandigarh on March 20,2005. This became her new home,a home where she was repeatedly raped by the staff. It was only after she was shifted to another state-run shelter,Ashreya,in Sector 47,Chandigarh,on March 13 this year that the crime came to light.

Soon after shifting to Ashreya,she complained of a stomach ache. After detailed examination,doctors at the Government Medical College and Hospital found that she was pregnant. On May 18,an FIR was filed charging that the girl had been raped.

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The question of whether a mentally challenged girl who has been raped should be allowed to deliver a baby has been the subject of much debate. In her statement to a special committee set up by the Punjab and Haryana High Court,she said she was looking forward to giving birth to a “bhaiya” so that she could play with him.

The Chandigarh administration got the High Court’s permission to terminate the pregnancy. But yesterday,the Supreme Court stayed the order,ruling that the girl,who is now in the 20th week of her pregnancy,could give birth to her baby.

The Chandigarh police department is expected to file a chargesheet in the lower court soon. “We were awaiting the Supreme Court’s final order. We will soon wind up the investigation and submit the chargesheet,” said Kulwant Singh Pannu,Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and investigating officer in the case.

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Meanwhile,four of the accused,including two women,have been arrested,and are in judicial custody. They are all staff members of the Nari Niketan.

The accused

Bhupinder Singh: About 32 years old,Singh was working as a sweeper at the Nari Niketan for over a decade. Named and identified by the victim,he was arrested on May 18 and booked for rape.

Jamuna Dass: This 52-year-old ex-serviceman was working as a watchman at the Nari Niketan. He is alleged to have repeatedly raped the girl in a washroom in the shelter in the last few years. The Chandigarh Police Special Investigation Team arrested him on June 11.

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Maya: Working at the shelter as a nurse-attendant,she is reported to have aided Dass and facilitated the rape. She is also charged with destroying crucial evidence,as she reportedly tore off a page of the register that was used to maintain the menstrual cycle of every inmate. She was arrested on June 20.

Kamla: Also an attendant at the Nari Niketan,Kamla,who is over 50 years old,is alleged to have facilitated the rape of the girl by Bhupinder Singh. The victim has also alleged that Kamla would beat her up when she protested. She was arrested with Jamuna Kumar Dass on June 11.

First published on: 23-07-2009 at 01:37:06 am
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