The Karnataka police on Monday arrested three men in connection with the alleged gangrape of a minor girl, who was abducted from a hospital in Shivamogga district. The 16-year-old girl's mother was admitted to McGann Teaching District Hospital in Shivamogga after contracting the novel coronavirus 15 days ago. The girl had been visiting the hospital to drop off home-cooked meals for her mother. It was during these visits that she met one of the hospital ward boys, Manoj.
Shivamogga Superintendent of Police KM Shantharaj said that Manoj would take the food from the girl and promise to deliver it to her mother. "He befriended her and pretended to want to help her out," SP Shantharaj added.
The alleged crime took place on December 5, Saturday, when section 144 was imposed in Shivamogga after four unidentified men assaulted Bajrang Dal district president Nagesh. As shops and establishments were closed on Saturday after tension prevailed in Shivamogga city, Nagesh allegedly promised to buy the girl dinner, so she could deliver it to her mother, the police said. "Manoj and his three friends, aged between 22 and 23 years, had already made a plan to abduct her even before Manoj approached her with an offer to help," SP Shantharaj said.
On the evening of December 5, Manoj allegedly took her into a car with three other friends. They drove all the way along the Shivamogga-Sagar Highway and stopped at a secluded spot in Ayanuru, which is about 25 kilometres away from the hospital. "The four men sexually assaulted her inside the car. Manoj later dropped her back at the hospital and allegedly threatened her with dire consequences if she spoke about the sexual assault to anyone," SP Shantharaj told TNM.
Upon returning, the girl informed her mother via telephone. The girl's mother filed a complaint with the Doddapete Police, who arrested Manoj on Saturday night itself. On Monday morning, the police laid a trap for three of Manoj's friends and arrested them from Shivamogga city.
The Doddapete Police took the girl to the Sakhi centre, where a medical examination was conducted. She is now undergoing counselling at the centre. Sakhi centres are government-funded one-stop centres for women who have survived sexual violence.
The four men have been booked under section 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. They have also been booked under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act.