A 16-year-old Dalit girl from Rajahmundry district of Andhra Pradesh was allegedly drugged, illegally confined and sexually assaulted for several days by 10 men. The Andhra Police on Monday arrested 10 persons in connection with the case, while the 11th accused in the case is on the run.
Police say Anitha, a distant relative of the minor girl, convinced the mother of the girl to send her for work at a shop. "The minor girl was taken in an auto filled with seven men by this lady Anita to a house on June 23. There she was given tea laced with drugs," said TSN Rao, the North Zone Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rajahmundry to TNM, “She was sexually assaulted for several days at this house, they kept her drugged every day,” he added.
It's unclear at the time for how many days the minor, from the Scheduled Caste community, was confined in the house.
When the mother of the minor girl was unable to get in touch with her daughter, she approached the Korukonda police station on July 12 to file a missing case. Police say Anita left for her village leaving the girl behind the same day.
“On July 15, the girl returned back to her mother. On July 18, the family approached the police station with complaints of sexually assaulted and we updated the FIR," said Rao who added that minor girl is now admitted at a government hospital and is in stable condition. “Medical examination is being carried out,” he added.
Police said all the accused have been booked on charges of rape under the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, among several other sections.
The official said that Anita was involved in human trafficking and knew the men as part of her work, though this was not known by the family of the girl. “These men are not gangsters like some media have reported,” the officer clarified.
In the meantime, political parties have alleged negligence by the Andhra Police for not taking seriously the missing case filed by the girl's family on July 12.
Pawan Kalyan, the Chief of Jana Sena Party, asked why the Disha Act though passed in the Assembly was not implemented across the state. “It is learnt that the police did not respond in time when the mother of the girl complained that her daughter was missing. What happened to the Disha Act which was brought to prevent atrocities on women? Why is the Act not being implemented though it gained approval unanimously in the Assembly?” asked Pawan in a statement to the media.
The actor-turned-politician also pointed out that the incident took place in Rajahmundry where the first Disha police station was established. “What are the special police stations set up under the name of Disha doing?”
The Disha Act, passed in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in the aftermath of the Hyderabad veterinarian gangrape and murder, awards death sentence for offences of rape and gangrape and completing trials of such cases within 21 days. The Act envisages the police to complete investigation in seven days and carry out trials within 14 working days.
Former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu and Chief of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) took to Twitter to express his outrage over the sexual assault and cited several instances of such crimes on women since the Disha Act came into effect. “Dalit girl in Yerpedu zone of Chittoor district, another girl in Venkatravupalle, Nellore district, another Dalit girl in Tadipatri, Anantapur district, a Muslim girl in Guntur, another woman raped in Nellore .. now Dalit minor girl. More than 400 rapes and 16 gang rapes in 14 months,” tweeted Naidu.
"దిశ" చట్టం చేసేశామని కోట్ల ప్రజాధనంతో ప్రచారం చేసుకున్న ప్రభుత్వం... అమలులో ఆ చట్టానికి దిక్కు లేకుండా చేసింది. మహిళలకు రక్షణ కల్పించాలన్న చిత్తశుద్ధి, నిబద్దత ప్రభుత్వానికి ఉంటే ఈ వరుస అత్యాచారాలు ఎందుకు జరుగుతాయి? (1/5)— N Chandrababu Naidu #StayHomeSaveLives (@ncbn) July 20, 2020
The police in the meantime rubbished the claims made by political parties. “There have been no delays on our part,” said Rao.