In December 2016, 20-year-old Smitha (name changed to protect privacy) delivered a baby at a government-run maternity home in Hubballi.
Five days after the delivery, when she was signing the discharge papers, she refused to take her infant along with her.
When the doctors pressed her for a reason for this, a horrifying tale of gangrape came to light.
About three years ago, Smitha was working with a catering company, when she fell in love with a local youth. According to the police, the youth was also working in the catering business, and the two had known each other for some years before.
Soon after the relationship began, however, it turned into an unimaginable nightmare, as Smitha was allegedly gangraped by her boyfriend and three of his friends.
According to a police official investigating the case, the four men raped the girl to an office of the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited, parts of which are not used. â€śThe girlâ€™s boyfriend, along with three other friends of his, took her to the KPTCL office, where they gangraped her,â€ť the official said.
At the time, Smitha was only 17 years old. Her gruesome ordeal did not end there. Following that first incident, the four men allegedly raped her multiple times over a period of three years.
To ensure her silence, they threatened to kill her if she ever spoke about the horrors they had subjected her to. Distraught and not knowing who to turn to, the young girl kept her silence.
Over a year ago, Smitha became pregnant and the repeated rapes stopped, the official said.
Terrified about her condition, Smitha finally opened up about her horrific experience to her mother. â€śHer father had abandoned the family years ago, which is why Smitha had quit school to work in the catering company. She had no one else but her mother to turn to,â€ť the official added.
However, mother and daughter decided to keep the matter quiet, as the death threat from the four men still loomed over Smitha.
The whole story only came to light after Smitha delivered her baby and doctors questioned her refusal to take the infant home.
â€śWe did not understand what had motivated her but we did suspect that she had been through some kind of trauma. After repeatedly asking her why she did not want to take her child, she told us about the incident,â€ť an official in the hospital said.
The doctors at the maternity home finally convinced Smitha to file a police complaint, and a case of gangrape and criminal intimidation was registered.
Six months on, however, the police are yet to nab the four accused, who are still at large. While Smitha waits for justice, her baby has been lodged in a government-run orphanage in Hubballi.
Police Commissioner P Rane told TNM that, due to the sensitive nature of the case, the names of the accused have not been revealed. He, however, said that they were closing in on the accused and that arrests would be made within a few days.