Victims of the alleged incidents of rape in Murthal in Sonepat district of Haryana can file a report directly with chief judicial magistrates instead of approaching the police, said the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The latest order comes a day after the High Court took a suo moto cognizance of the alleged incidents of rape, according to a report on the The Times of India. Justice NK Sanghi had written to the acting Chief Justice in order to initiate further proceedings into the matter, suggesting an independent probe. He had added that the court would be failing in its duty should it chose to remain idle.
While the report caused waves of outrage, the Haryana police as well as the government categorically denied the occurrence of any such events. The Haryana Director-General of Police (DGP) YP Singhal said that an investigating committee was formed that had inspected the site, but found the "allegations made in the report false and baseless", according to a report on The Financial Express. Even local residents near the site denied knowledge of the same, citing that they were made aware of the reports through newspapers and the police.
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel stationed in Murthal however, claimed otherwise, stating that women were sexually assaulted by the rioters, but the jawan said there was little that they could do without orders from senior officers.
"It was around 3 am when we had moved away from Hassanpur towards Delhi that a mob torched the vehicles and misbehaved with women," a CRPF jawan was quoted as saying according to the report on The Times of India.
The TOI team had also found pieces of clothing strewn around at the site where the alleged incidents took place — a few items looked like innerwear, though it was yet to be established whether they belonged to the victims. The report claims that they are waiting for forensic reports.
A dhaba owner said that the women were desperately seeking help at their door early on 22 February. "I got frantic calls from my workers who told me women were crying so loud for help that they could hear them from inside. I asked them to stay inside. One of the girls ran naked across the road and hid in neck deep water, the workers told me," the dhaba owner was quoted in TOI. The owner said that he would give a statement to the investigators even if one woman came forward.
The incidents were reported by an English-language newspaper The Tribune, which claimed that 10 women were sexually abused by goons on the National Highway-1 in Murthal at the time of the Jat stir. According to the report, the women were left nude in the fields, and were reunited with their families at a nearby dhaba. The police, according to the report, had asked the victims and their families to not file a complaint in order to preserve their 'honour'.