Bhopal/Ujjain: Last week, Madhya Pradesh reported three cases of rape over a period of three days, one each in Ujjain, Bhopal and Jabalpur. The state has been seeing an increase in rape cases over the last few years, with Madhya Pradesh Police data showing an increase in total rape cases from 4,319 in 2015 to 4,882 in 2016 and 5,148 in 2017.
One of the most recent rape case is that of a five-year-old Dalit girl, who was abducted, raped and murdered on Friday (7 June) by a 19-year-old youth whom she knew and referred to as uncle, in Ujjain. On 7 June, the accused Shiva Rao Maratha abducted the girl from her shanty, raped her and then bludgeoned her to death to hide any evidence of his misdeed.
The father of the victim, a brick kiln worker, had lodged a complaint with the police on 7 June stating that her daughter was missing since the early morning. It was in the afternoon on the same day that the disfigured body of the victim was found floating in the holy river Kshipra.
Sachin Atulkar, the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Ujjain, said, “A special investigation led by additional SP Neeraj Pandey was formed. An intensive search operation was carried out, following which the body (of the victim) was recovered.”
The girl had gone to sleep with her parents and two other siblings. It was her father who noticed that the girl was missing on 7 June morning. The father works at a brick kiln located on the banks of river Kshipra near the temple of Bhukhi Mata. With meagre pay in hands, he used to live in a hut that did not have doors to close at night.
Thea accused Shiva, who used to work at a flower vending shop near the much-revered Mahakaleshwar temple, was already preying on the girl and abducted her while she was sleeping.
In his confession, Shiva said that when he left for home at around 3 am on 7 June, instead of going to his house, he went to the victim’s hut and lifted her in her sleep. He ventured into the shanty fearlessly as it did not have any fixed doors. He silently moved the makeshift arrangement made by the family to shut the entrance and lifted the girl. He said that the victim did not move when he lifted her, and then took her to a nearby field, where he raped her and then bludgeoned her to death with a brick. He had gagged the girl so that she couldn’t cry.
“The post-mortem report said that the girl suffered internal bleeding and genital mutilation. The cause of death was blow to the head,” said Atulkar.
The accused threw the girl's body in the river to hide the evidence. A case under sections 449 (trespassing), 376 (8) (rape), 366 (kidnapping), 302 (murder) of the IPC, sections 5 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) and sections 3(2)(5) of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) was registered against the accused.
The accused was produced in a local court where the judge ordered a 14-day judicial remand.
The SP said that the police acted swiftly and that two additional SPs, four DSPs and Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) were put into the investigation. "It was only due to the swift action that we were able to crack the case in 48 hours and we are trying to complete the investigation at the earliest so that trial could begin in a week,” he added.
The incident has sparked widespread protests in the city with several humanitarian groups resorting to dharna demanding fast track trial and maximum punishment for the accused. In order to deal with attackers especially from the Bajrang Dal who had planned to thrash the accused while he was on his way to the court, the police used diversion tactics by dividing vehicles and law enforcement officers in two groups to safely take the accused to the courtroom and then back to jail.
A gruesome rerun emerges in Bhopal
A day after the Ujjain rape case, a nine-year-old girl was raped and murdered in the Mandwa Basti of Nehru Nagar in Bhopal on 8 June. Her scratched body was found in a local nullah (a small stream) in the wee hours of Sunday. Bhopal IGP Yogesh Deshmukh arrested the accused Vishnu Prasad, 35, on Monday. The Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) has sought a reply from the state police regarding the incident within a month.
The victim, a student of Class 3, had left her home to fetch paan masala for her father. She even came back with the paan masala and gave it to her father at around 9 am and then once again went outside. The accused Vishnu Prasad lured her by offering to buy paan masala for her mother and took her to a secluded place where he raped her before strangulating her to death. He dumped the body in the nullah and ran away.
Police sources said that rope marks were seen on her hand as if she was tied and then the accused forced himself upon her. Sources in the police department suspect that the girl was also sodomised.
The victim’s family, however, has alleged police apathy in the case and claimed that the staff at Kamla Nagar Police Station did not act timely on their complaint and did not register a missing complaint. Seven policemen, including an officer, were suspended for negligence. The girl had gone missing from 9 am on Saturday, and her body was found at 5 am on the morning of Sunday. According to the family of the victim, an investigation was launched in the case only after the locals of Mandwa Basti protested in the night.
The rape case in Bhopal has grabbed the attention of several politicians in the state, including senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who attended the last rites of the victim.
BJP (BJP) MP from Bhopal Pragya Thakur too reached out to the family of the victim, demanding capital punishment for the accused. Chief Minister Kamal Nath took to Twitter to announce his condolences while stating that the accused will get punishment at the earliest. The government has announced Rs 5 lakh as aid to the families of victims in Ujjain and Bhopal. The police, meanwhile, have said that they will produce the chargesheet within 48 hours.
Following the incident, BJP demanded the resignation of the chief minister. A BJP delegation led by Thakur has submitted a memorandum to governor Anandiben Patel over the deteriorating law and order condition in the state. The BJP has also announced a “Jan Aakrosh” (public outrage) candle march in the state capital on 10 June, led by hundreds of children. Former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and leader of opposition Gopal Bhargava are likely to participate in the event.
Four-year-old raped in Jabalpur
On 9 June (Sunday), few hours after the body of the nine-year-old girl was found in Bhopal, a 16-year-old minor raped a four-year-old girl in the Barhi village of Jabalpur district. The teenage accused picked up the girl at around 12.30 pm while she was playing at her home and then forced himself on her in a nearby empty house.
The teenager was caught off-guard by the screams of the child after which he left her and ran away. As he was running away, he was caught by villagers and was handed over to the police. The victim is under treatment after sustaining severe internal injuries. The government in a release said that it would bear the expenses of the child’s treatment.
Nath on Monday, said “The rape incidents at different places of the state are painful. Police have been asked to deal with the situation with iron hands. We will try to get maximum punishment to the accused within a month."
The author is a Bhopal-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com
Updated Date: Jun 11, 2019 07:18:58 IST