Jat quota riots: Haryana govt likely to present affidavits, police report on Murthal rapes

New Delhi: The Haryana government, represented by two of its top officials, is likely to present two affidavits, along with a detailed police report in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday.

The first affidavit, which will be submitted by DS Dhesi, chief secretary, Haryana pertains to the estimation of total damage to public and private property and the compensation arithmetic and dispensation mechanism that has been finalised.

PK Das, home secretary, Haryana, will submit an affidavit on the alleged Murthal gangrapes which will include the detailed report of the SP, DC and IG, Police.

However, despite detailed investigations over eight days, there is still no evidence at hand to establish that any such incident took place. This is because not a single rape victim or family member of a rape victim has come forward to file a complaint, either with the police, the police helplines set up especially for the victims, the district magistrates appointed by the Court or the National Commission for Women (NCW) team, which also conducted an independent probe.

Jat quota riots: Haryana govt likely to present affidavits, police report on Murthal rapes

File image of the Jat agitation earlier this month. PTI

Media mismanagement?

Multiple media outfits, attempting independent enquiries at the alleged crime scene, have additionally failed to conjure any victims or witnesses. Rather, there have been accusations by some locals alleging coercion by the media to give statements on camera confirming the rapes. When chief judicial magistrates took statements of witnesses who were appearing on the different news channels, they denied having witnessed any such outrage .

Video footage of women’s clothes strewn around the fields has been repeatedly shown by TV channels as suggestive of the horror that allegedly took place at Murthal.

Earlier, a Firstpost report of 26 February, which undertook a 360° review of the facts on hand, including a police report, had also failed to establish the occurrence of any such heinous mass rape in Murthal. The police report, which was in Hindi, was uploaded along with the article and the English transcript was also made available.

The Court had taken suo moto cognisance of the alleged crime after The Tribune report of 24 February which said that at least ten women passengers on the national highway near Murthal, Sonepat, were stopped in the early hours of Monday, 22 February, dragged into the nearby fields and gangraped, while further accusing the police of having advised the rape victims and their families not to register any complaints. The Court had asked the Haryana government to reply, following which a detailed police probe into the incident was ordered.

Following The Tribune report, the news spread like wildfire, stoked by the media and RTI and women activists. However, all that could be established through eye witness accounts is incidents of violence, loot and arson but not a single case of sexual assault, far less rape.

However, given the seriousness of the allegations and the horror that the news has imprinted in the minds of people, the police are continuing to urge victims to step forward.

In the police report of 26 February, all three key sources in The Tribune story, while admitting that some journalists from Delhi had visited them in and around Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba and made enquiries, denied both the occurrence of any such incident, or having confirmed the occurrence of either sexual assault or gangrape to the journalists. Further, CCTV footage obtained from Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba did not show any women’s clothes at the time the incident allegedly took place.

After drawing a blank, the police then turned to one of the authors of the report, Parveen Arora who additionally denied having spoken to a single victim or victim’s family, maintaining that his story was based on the statements of the three persons named in the story.

Though after all the hype, eventually, a resident of Narela, Delhi, did lodge a complaint with the Haryana police in Sonepat on 27 February alleging gangrape on National Highway-1 near Murthal, she herself claimed the rape was by her brothers-in-law and their five accomplices, not external goons/rioters. Further, the incident does not pertain to the morning of 22 February, but the night of 22-23 February. According to reports, the complainant has filed multiple rape allegations in the past and also has an ongoing property dispute with her in-laws. An FIR has been filed and the matter is being investigated before any arrests are made.

A photograph of the affidavit. Firstpost/Shishir Tripathi

A photograph of the affidavit. Firstpost/Shishir Tripathi


Unanswered questions

With everyone failing to produce even a single rape victim, after eight days, how did The Tribune report establish that least 10 women were subjected to gangrape by at least 30 goons? What is the source of these figures?

If such heinous gangrapes by violent, armed goons did indeed take place, but were covered up as alleged, wouldn’t these victims need medical attention? If so, hospitals are legally bound to report any case of suspected criminal injuries to the police. No such report has come in, from Delhi or the NCR.

If the incident is indeed fabricated, what could be the motivation in fabricating it? Could it be to deflect attention from the Congress hand in the burning of Haryana as revealed in these three Firstpost exposés of 22, 23 and 24 February?

If the story is not fabricated, is it really possible for the Haryana police to (as alleged) suppress the voices of as many as 10 alleged rape victims, who supposedly live in Delhi, as well as the voices of hundreds of villagers and other locals?

In summary, though the suspicion of a fabricated report is extremely distressing, the likelihood of even one woman being raped in the course of the relentless 8-day Jat quota stir in Haryana is even more disturbing.

One can only hope no such incident took place.

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Updated Date: Feb 29, 2016 13:20:58 IST

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