Sonipat: The Haryana Police is in the middle of a row as it faces serious charges of custodial gang rape of a Dalit woman and her minor relative — both accused in a murder case of two policemen — in Sonipat’s Butana village.
According to an FIR registered on 30 July by the minor’s mother at Sonipat’s Mahila Thana, three main accused — assistant sub-inspector Sanjay, special police officer Radhe and constable Sandeep — and “7-9” unnamed policemen raped the two in custody at the Baroda police station and the Crime Investigation Agency office in Gohana between 3 and 5 July.
The three accused — the FIR only mentioned their first names — have been charged under the POCSO Act, and Sections 376 (2)(a) and 376-D of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which are used for gang rape, besides relevant sections of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The minor girl, who turned 18 on 22 August, and the young Dalit woman, who is the former’s first cousin, have been lodged in Karnal jail in connection with the murder case since 5 July.
Over the last fortnight, the case has drawn the attention of the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes. While the former sent a panel to Sonipat from 21-23 October to look into the case, the latter wrote to the Haryana Police on 22 October to probe the matter.
Several Dalit organisations in the district have also been protesting against the issue, demanding justice for the two women and the arrest of the accused policemen.
While the police has started investigation, it is yet to arrest the accused officers.
“We have constituted an SIT under ASP Nikita Khattar. She is investigating the case. SHO Mahila Thana Inspector Promila is also assisting her,” Jashandeep Singh Randhawa, Superintendent of Police (SP), Sonipat.
The murder case
The case trail started with the murder of two policemen on 29 June in Butana.
“On 29, around 5 pm, we found the dead bodies of the policemen in a pool of blood near a closed old building in Hariyali Bazar. The two were identified as special police officer Kaptan Singh (42) and Constable Ravindra Kumar (28),” said SP Randhawa.
“During the course of the investigation, we discovered a vehicle number written on Ravinder’s hand. That led us to the six accused in the murder case,” he said.
Among these were a local gangster and history sheeter named Amit, who was the main accused. According to the police, Amit stabbed the officers as they found him in a “compromised situation” with the minor in a car. Four other accused, including the minor’s relative, were found in a second car.
“The accused confessed during the interrogation that they were drinking alcohol. Kumar and Kaptan found gangster Amit and the minor girl in a compromised situation,” said Randhawa.
“The policeman asked them to come to the chowki. But the accused tried to bribe them. This escalated later,” said the SP, adding that Amit stabbed them to “protect the identity of the girls”.
However, the accused minor’s mother denied this. “Our girls have said that the two policemen demanded that the minor girl should be handed over to them for enjoyment. This led to the escalation,” she said.
According to the complainant, Amit and the minor girl were in a relationship and they wanted to get married. She told ThePrint that they “didn’t allow them to meet” so her daughter sneaked out at night along with her older cousin to see him.
In the murder case, the two were named as accused in an FIR registered on 30 June under Section 302 (attempt to murder), along with Amit and three other men. Amit was killed in an encounter on the same day, while the three others are currently in judicial custody.
According to the police, the minor girl and the woman were arrested on 3 July from an outer road of the village after other accused in the case identified their names.
The ‘rape’ case
The minor’s mother, who is the complainant in the FIR into the gang rape, denied the police records into the arrest. She said she took her daughter to the police station to surrender on 2 July as the police had started “harassing other family members”.
“I stayed with her at the Baroda police station on 2 July. The policemen abused and slapped me. They also took another minor girl from the family and kept her in the police station for hours. They called her names and beat her up,” she said, referring to a third girl who was allegedly picked up.
This minor girl corroborated the complainant’s version. “Unhone mujhe gaaliyan di aur maara. Maine kaha ki maine kuch galat kaam kiya hai to aap mera doctor se check up karawa lo. Wo bole ki saara doctor ka check up ham yahin kar denge. (They abused and hit me. I asked them to take me to a doctor for a check-up. But they said ‘we’ll do the check-up here itself’.)”
Baroda police station SHO Badan Singh, however, denied this claim. “No family member other than the accused girls was taken to the police station. The allegation of the abuse is false,” he said.
The two accused in the murder case remained in police custody over the next two days, when a local court ordered them to be sent to Karnal jail.
According to the FIR, it was during this custody period that the two were gang raped by the policemen. “The police officials inserted wood sticks, bottles and fingers in their private parts,” the complainant told ThePrint.
According to SHO Pramila, while the minor’s mother has complained on behalf of both the women, the family of the other woman hasn’t approached the police. “So far, none of the family members of the other girl has claimed anything,” she said.
Questions on medical examination
According to records, the two women girls were examined thrice between 3 July and 1 August.
“The first medical examination was conducted on the day of arrest, i.e. 3 July. Second medical examination was conducted was on the day they were produced before court, i.e. 5 July,” said SP Randhawa.
After this, the women complained of bleeding in their private parts on 7 July. They were then taken to the Karnal Civil Hospital and then to the Kalpana Chawla Hospital for an ultrasound on 12 July, said Mahila Thana SHO, Inspector Pramila.
“The family has also filed a petition in the court. The Gohana court then ordered a medical examination. I received the medical report on 1 August,” she said.
According to Pramila, none of the medical reports indicate “abuse”.
“We have also recorded the statement of the doctors who have examined the girls. The bleeding and swelling part has been confirmed by the Karnal Civil Hospital. But the doctors are yet to confirm if this was because of any object inserted in the private parts,” she said.
Narendra Chikara, the lawyer representing the women in the gang rape case, told ThePrint that the medical examinations don’t indicate sexual assault. “But there are other evidence of the assault which will substantiate the girls’ claims,” he said.
The minor’s mother, however, alleged that the medical examinations were manipulated.
“The nature of the allegation is grave. We have recorded the girls’ statement. We took them to the scene of crime — Baroda police station and Crime Investigation Agency, Gohana. There is not much contradiction in the statements made by girls except a few,” she added.