As polling day for the Lok Sabha elections 2019 approaches in Himachal Pradesh, a case of alleged rape and molestation of a teenage girl has sparked political turmoil in the state. A teenage girl identified as a native of Haryana, was returning to her relative’s house in Shimla when she was allegedly pulled into a car and raped by three persons on Sunday night. She has also argued that she had allegedly told the police that some of the rapists had molested her in a car earlier this month.
This case has led to various local residents and political parties lashing out at the state government and police authorities, accusing them of showing a complacent attitude towards a serious complaint which then led to a horrific crime.
The police had allegedly told the victim to register a complaint with “Gudiya Helpline” (a helpline set up by the current BJP state government in 2017 after the infamous Gudiya murder and rape case shook the city in 2017) instead of filing a complaint at the police station.
According to sources, a First Information Report (FIR) including charges of sexual harassment, rape and kidnapping was registered on Monday, April 29, but no arrests have been made yet.
As per the girl’s statement recorded with the police, she had gone to a police station on Sunday to inquire about how to report molestation, and was raped on the way back by the same people she had wanted to report a case of molestation against.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has condemned the Bharatiya Janata Party led- state government’s attitude towards safety of women against crimes. The ruling BJP’s key Assembly poll rhetoric during the state elections in 2017 was women’s safety after the BJP fired the then Congress government for failing to nab the accused of the gruesome Gudiya Gang rape and murder. The CPI(M) has called BJP’s claim of safety of women as a political slogan with no intention of truly adhering to it.
The Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee also held a protest in Shimla on the issue on Tuesday. HPCC president Kuldeep Singh Rathore said, “The girl approached the police for help but it was not provided. The BJP claims women are safe in the state, but the incident is a proof of the failure of their government in the state.”
Following this, Himachal Pradesh Director General of Police Sita Ram Mardi is overlooking the case personally and has told media persons, “We don’t want to disclose anything as it will hamper our investigation. We have ordered a magisterial enquiry on the information that she had approached the police (and allegedly did not receive much help).”
An eight-member Special Investigation Team headed by Additional Superintendent of Police Shimla (city), Parveer Thakur was formed on Tuesday to probe the case “on priority” and “complete the investigation at the earliest”.
The girl, who was taking coaching for an entrance examination, had reportedly taken a lift in a car on April 17 when she was allegedly molested. Around 6 PM on Sunday, she approached a police post to ask about how to report the molestation.
In her statement, the girl said that while she was returning home on Sunday, at around 10 PM, she was allegedly dragged into a car, raped, and left on the road with her clothes torn. She then called her friend who brought her clothes and reported the incident on the “Gudiya helpline” number, the statement said.
According to sources, the victim has allegedly taken a U-Turn in front of the District Magistrate and has requested to withdraw her complain and has even requested to not drag her friend into the matter for questioning. One of the girl’s male friends, who she claimed brought her clothes, was questioned by the police on Tuesday.
However, police sources have said that medical tests showed that she was in-fact raped but there are gaps in her narrative. “In the CCTV footage she can be seen walking with her clothes not torn, but she said the rapists had torn her clothes. We are trying to get clarity on this,” as per a police source quoted in a regional newspaper.
If the medical report in fact confirms rape, people are viewing the victim’s U-turn as a move made by her under undue pressure or influence.
While the investigation is still on, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has termed it as a very unfortunate incident and has ordered the police to expedite the inquiry. “I am not satisfied with the police inquiry, so I will look into the matter personally.” he told the media on Tuesday.
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