Reports of alleged incidents of rape of women in Murthal, Haryana at the time of the Jat protests has been categorically denied by the Haryana Police, the Khattar government as well as locals.
The Haryana Director-General of Police (DGP) YP Singhal termed the reports as false at a press conference in Hisar, where he added that an investigating committee comprising of a financial commissioner and an inspector general of police had looked into the matter, but failed to find any evidence of the alleged incidents.
"Investigations conducted by the principal secretary, Industries and Commerce, Devender Singh, and the Inspector-General of Police Paramjit Ahlawat, had found the allegations made in the report false and baseless," Singhal was quoted as saying at the press conference according to a report on The Financial Express. The DGP added that anybody with any information in the issue was welcome to approach the police.
The Sonepat police too joined the chorus in denying the reports.
"We talked to the people in the area, even those who were quoted in the report, but nobody told us about any sexual harassment by protesters," Superintendent of Police (SP) Abhishek Garg was quoted as saying according to a report on Hindustan Times.
The ML Khattar-led Haryana government, which has been reeling under the agitations by the Jat community for caste-based reservation for nearly two weeks now, cleared the air surrounding the issue by denying the occurrence of any such incident. A government spokesperson also added that the Sarpanch of Kurad, a village in close proximity of the site of the alleged rapes, denied knowledge of the reports.
"When some youth broke window panes of a few cars, some women who were seated inside the vehicles were injured. Such families were given shelter by the villagers in their own homes and gave them first aid and food. The media reports to this effect are totally false, misleading and not based on facts,” the spokesman was quoted as saying according to The Financial Express.
A report carried in The Tribune alleged that at least 10 women were molested by hooligans on National Highway 1 — which occurred after a mob began to pelt stones at vehicles headed towards the National Capital Region (NCR). According to the report, the occupants of the vehicles abandoned their vehicles in order to save their lives, with a few women getting left behind, who were then targeted.
The women reportedly were left on the fields after getting sexually assaulted, with the police allegedly persuading the victims and their families to not report the case in order to preserve their 'honour'.
However, a report carried on The Hindu proved otherwise, with residents of the villages of Hassanpur and Kurad denying such reports. The locals are said to have learnt of the alleged incidents only after reading the newspapers as well as from the police. They however clarified that women were beaten with sticks and that they took to the nearby fields in order to hide themselves.
"The mob broke my car windows and beat us with sticks. They threatened to beat the women travelling with us, but they escaped by running into the wheat fields," a resident of New Delhi, who was returning from Vaishno Devi, was quoted as saying, denying any incidents of sexual assault on the women travelling with him.
Reports of the incident, most of which was based on the reports carried by The Tribune, sparked outrage among the masses, especially on social networking sites such as Twitter. The Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo moto cognizance of the matter on Wednesday, and added that an independent probe was required in this case. According to a report on Hindustan Times, Justice NK Sanghi wrote to the acting chief justice for further proceedings on the matter, adding that the court would be failing in its duties should it choose to sit idle.
Members of the Jat community have been agitating for their inclusion into the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category that would guarantee them reservations in government jobs and educational institutions. The agitations turned violent around a week ago, with several mobs vandalising public property and also disrupting bus and train services passing through the affected regions.
As many as 15 people have reportedly died in the clashes between the protesting members of the community as well as the security personnel comprising of police forces as well as the Army.