Fourteen days after a dalit girl was found hanging from a tree in Modasa taluka of Aravalli district in Gujarat, Shivanand Jha, the Director General of Police (DGP) suspended the Police Inspector who was accused of not registering a timely complaint when the victim’s family attempted to lodge a missing person’s report repeatedly.
On January 1, the 19-year-old girl went missing, following which her body was found hanging from a tree on the outskirts of Saira village in Modasa taluka, Aravalli on January 5.
“She left home on January 1 and when she did not return home till next day, her father went to file a complaint for the mysterious disappearance of his daughter. However, he came back as Modasa Town police told him that this is under jurisdiction of the district rural police,” said relative of the victim.
“Truth is that the police did not register complaint as the police inspector and the accused are from same community (caste),” he added.
In the FIR, complainant (kind of the victim) states, “The town police inspector NK Rabari did not act on a missing person report that was taken on January 3. Instead he told the family members that she (the victim) had married a man of her community (caste) and that he (Rabari) would produce her along with a marriage certificate.”
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Noticeably, police inspector NK Rabari was initially transferred on January 12 following a protest that erupted after the incident.
After the body of the victim was found, Modasa town police had registered a case of accidental death with an assurance of further investigation. The victim’s father, however, had mentioned names of ‘suspect’ while registering a missing person’s report but local police did not act on it.
“The woman went missing on January 1 and her family registered a complaint for her missing to Modasa Town police after searching for her for two days. Following the complaint, Modasa town police transferred the case to Modasa rural police who were still investigating into the matter when her body was found. The police did not take any action against the person named as suspect by father of the woman as there was not enough evidence,” said Mayur Patil, Superintendent of Police of Aravalli.
Eventually on January 8, after protests were staged by hundreds of dalits including the family of the victim, others from villages from Modasa, Viramgam and Ahmedabad districts in front of the Modasa rural police station, the police registered an FIR under various provisions of IPC and under Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Aravlli SP Mayur Patil, Sabarkantha SP Chaitanya Mandalik and Inspector General of Police (Gandhinagar range that holds the jurisdiction of Aravalli) Mayanksinh Chavda reached Modasa to meet the family and FIR was registered on basis of complaint by a relative of the victim.
The FIR names four accused - Bimal Bharvad, Darshan Bharvad, Satish Bharvad and Jigar all belonging to Maldhari or Rabari (pastoral) community behind the kidnapping, rape and murder of the 19-year-old girl.
As per the FIR, sister of the victim had seen one of the accused in his car along with others at the Modasa bus stand on January 1, the day the victim went missing. It further mentions that family members of the victim had checked CCTV footage of a certain location in which the victim was seen in the car with same registration number along with the accused.
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Following the FIR, a post mortem was conducted at Ahmedabad Civil hospital amid around 200 people, mostly from dalit community, who had thronged the hospital.
On January 13, three of four accused were arrested as they surrendered at the Modasa rural police station and the car – a Hyundai i20 that was used for abduction was also seized by the police.
However, protests continued as kin of the victim and others demanded action against police inspector NK Rabari who first refused to take a missing person’s report on January 2 and then lodge a FIR of rape and murder after the body was found.
On January 18, Shivanand Jha, DGP, Gujarat formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and transferred the case to CID. The DGP also suspended NK Rabari on grounds of ‘negligence of duty’.