The police have said they will take the class nine student to nearby BSF and CoBRA camps, in case she is able to identify the accused.
New Delhi: A minor girl in Odisha’s Koraput district was gangraped, allegedly by four security force personnel while they were in combat uniform, on Tuesday (October 10).
The girl, a class nine student, was on her way home from a nearby local market in Kunduli, where she had gone to have passport pictures taken, when four men gagged her and dragged her into the forest around noon, Economic Times reported. The men were wearing “jungle uniforms”, the girl who is still in hospital has said, leading her family and others to allege that they belonged to the security forces. On hearing of the incident, protests erupted in the area and hundreds of people blocked National Highway 26 (between Koraput and Visakhapatnam) at Kunduli Hatpada on Wednesday morning. The bandh was lifted 33 hours later after talks with the Koraput collector and the superintendent of police.
The accused are yet to be identified. In a statement released on Tuesday night, chief minister Naveen Patnaik expressed “deep shock and denounced the incident as most inhuman”, according to Economic Times.
The police have marked the incident as a ‘red flag’ case, a tag meant for cases of heinous crimes against a woman to be dealt with as a top priority under a circular issued by the Odisha police in 2014. A case under Sections 376 (D) and 377 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has been filed in the Potangi police station.
“A special investigating team comprising additional superintendent of police V.R. Rao, deputy superintendent of police N. Nayak and woman inspector M. Panigrahy has been formed to probe the case,” Koraput superintendent of police Kunwar Vishal Singh told The Hindu.
According to the Times of India, the police have now said that they will take the girl to the nearest camps of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Commando Battalions for Resolute Action (CoBRA), a unit of central reserve police force (CRPF), in case she is able to identify any suspects. Both the BSF and CoBRA have been mobilised by the government to counter left-wing extremism in the area. There is a BSF camp 35 km from and the CoBRA headquarters 25 km from where the girl was attacked.
“We were already informed by the BSF and CRPF that their personnel were not involved in the heinous offence. Still, we will take the victim to their camps so that the investigation can be done in a fair manner. We urged the BSF and CRPF to cooperate with us in the investigation,” a senior police officer told the newspaper.
“Our probe is on to find out the persons (whether police, paramilitary personnel, civilians or Maoists), who committed the offence. Jungle patch clothes are being worn by people of all hues. Whosoever are involved will be brought to book,” director general of police Rajendra Prasad Sharma told Times of India.
The Communist Party of India (Maoist) has also denied any involvement in the incident. “We are not involved in the incident. We never do such kind of heinous acts. We are being falsely implicated in the case. We’ll observe a bandh in Koraput district on October 16,” Hindustan Times quoted Andhra-Odisha border special zonal committee spokesperson Jagabandhu as saying in an audiotape. The Congress party has reportedly also called for a bandh in the area on Monday (October 16) to protest against the incident and demand speedy justice.
The Odisha State Women’s Commission has taken suo moto cognisance of the incident. A four-member team from the commission met the girl on Saturday at the Sahid Laxman Nayak Medical College and Hospital in Koraput, where she is being treated, Kalinga TV reported. The commission has also asked the SP to submit a case status report.
A team from the Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights also visited the district and enquired about the health of the girl, Hindustan Times reported.
The Odisha human rights commission on Wednesday had asked the police, state ST and SC development department, district collector and superintendent of police to submit separate inquiry reports within seven days, according to the Times of India.