Nearly a week after a 17-year-old tribal girl in Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu was allegedly raped by two men from her locality, one of them was arrested on Sunday. Police nabbed Satish on Sunday, a day after the victim died at a hospital in Dharmapuri. The arrest follows protests by the girl’s family and neighbours demanding action be taken against the perpetrators.
A Class 12 student from Sitling village, Nithya* had returned home from boarding school for Deepavali holidays. On November 5, she went to the woods near her home to answer nature's call. Two men, Satish, 22 and Ramesh, 22, allegedly gagged her and sexually assaulted her. When they duo heard relatives coming to Nithya's rescue, they fled the spot. Days later, Nithya died at the Dharmapuri General Hospital after being admitted for dizziness and nausea.
Speaking to TNM, one investigating official said Satish had been arrested from a relative's house in Yercaud, where he had fled to on Monday. The police officer also said that special teams continue to search for Ramesh who is still at large.
Various political and social activists who have slammed the government and police for ‘inaction.' Nithya’s parents had alleged that local police demanded bribes to fill fuel for the police vehicle, reportedly stating that the tribal hamlet was too far.
The official also confirmed that the investigating officer in the case had been changed following the protests and allegations by the family. "Inspector Lakshmi from Aroor has been put in-charge now. The protesters had demanded that a woman officer be put in-charge owing to the sensitive nature of the case," said the official.
On Sunday, district collector S Malarvizhi visited the protesters and assured them that both men would be arrested within 48 hours. Speaking to media persons, the Collector said, "Certain complaints have also been raised on police officers of the local police station (where the incident was first reported). District Revenue authorities are undertaking an investigation on that. We have also assured them (the protesters) that if such an offence by the police is confirmed, strict action will be recommended to the Commissioner of Police. On the basis of this assurance, the road roko has been withdrawn."
The post-mortem on Nithya's body is scheduled to be conducted on Monday in the presence of a team of doctors.
Police officials have filed an FIR and booked Ramesh and Satish under Sections 5g (whoever commits gang penetrative sexual assault on a child), 6(Punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault) and 18(Punishment for attempt to commit an offence) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). However, the parents have demanded that the case be changed from ‘attempted rape’ to ‘rape.’