THE parents of a 14-year-old girl who had approached police after she disappeared with a Muslim youth from a neighbouring village in this district, located 25 km from the state capital, have accused a local police officer of raping her. The rape allegedly took place at the village police outpost around 2.30 am on April 13. They filed the FIR against Officer-In-Charge Binod Chandra Das on April 30, reportedly after some local Hindu groups started asking the family about the “elopement”.
The girl told The Indian Express that it was a “wrong number” that first brought her in touch with the youth, 21, and that he befriended her using a fake name. She adds that they lived together at his aunt’s house for about 10 days after eloping. “Then I called up my parents telling them I wanted to marry him.” Her father, a daily wage labourer, had by then filed an FIR accusing the youth of kidnapping his daughter. “We came back on our own to the village on April 12. I had no idea police had been notified”, she added.
The duo was picked up by police from a local restaurant where they were supposed to meet the girl’s father, who had promised to come with her birth certificate. “The youth was put behind bars and the girl was brought to the outpost and kept in custody for her statement and medical examination,” says a local police officer. But due to “lack of time”, neither was done, according to the officer.
He adds that while it is not a norm to keep a victim overnight at a police outpost, they had to do so in this case as the girl’s parents didn’t want to take her home that night because news had spread that she had run away with a Muslim and they apprehended trouble.
The girl claims that around 2 am, Officer-In-Charge Das sent Dipali Rabha, the woman officer present at the station, out, locked the door, and made her touch his private parts. “When I started crying, he called the woman officer back in, but sent her out again, and forced me once more,” says the 14-year-old. She claims the officer later asked her to go to sleep.
However, when she was taken for a medical test to Guwahati the next day, the girl did not make the rape charge and also refused a medical examination. From there, she was taken to a destitute home, where she was kept until she was brought home on April 17. Her mother says they grew suspicious when the girl did not eat or speak for days after returning home. When they pressed her, she said that she was raped by the officer, the mother says. “We were afraid to go to police considering our complaint was against police. Then some Hindu groups came asking about the kidnapping, and when we told them about this development, they asked us to go to police immediately.” However, she is not able to name these Hindu groups.
The day after the complaint was registered, Das was arrested and is still in custody. “There are no witnesses… we have gone by the word of the victim,” says an officer. “While the woman officer has seconded the girl’s statement that she was asked to leave, she has admitted that she did not witness the incident first hand.” Rabha, who has been mostly absent since the incident, remained unavailable for comment.
Says a senior police officer, “It is unclear whether this was a rape or molestation, but the FIR alleges rape, and we will investigate accordingly.” Kamrup SP Partha Sarathi Mahanta says, “The investigation is complete but for the medical report of the victim. The chargesheet will be filed as soon as we get it.”
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