New Delhi: The Haryana police told the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday that the special investigation team probing the allegations of mass rape in Murthal during the Jat reservation agitation has added IPC sections pertaining to rape to the first information report (FIR) already registered. The Manohar Lal Khattar government had initially dismissed all reports of sexual violence during the agitation, and even the police had said that they had not received any complaints of sexual violence.
The high court had taken cognisance of a February 24, 2016 report in The Tribune that highlighted the incident first, and ordered an investigation into the matter. The Wire travelled to Murthal and reported on the government’s conspicuous silence on the rape allegations. Sonepat DSP Satish Sharma had then told The Wire that the only complaints of sexual harassment received were the ones made by the truck drivers. Although 14 complaints of arson and murder threats were received, none of those mentioned anything about women being sexually harassed, Sharma had said, adding that the police too had not found any evidence of rape and assault in their investigations until then.
This new development comes after the SIT took note of two letters corroborating the rape allegations. The first letter, sent anonymously from Mathura Road in Faridabad, states that the victim was a final year college student returning from her college hostel along with her father when she was gangraped. The other letter is from an Australia-based NRI, and was sent to the police by a local news channel. The Cyber Cell, Sonipat, has been directed to contact the channel and find out the source of the letter. The letter, which has since has gone viral on social media, said she had reached New Delhi airport from Australia on February 21 and was travelling on National Highway-1 near Murthal where she was allegedly gang raped.
“Since the content of both communications reveals the commission of offence under Section 376D of the Indian Penal Code, the relevant Section has been added and further investigation will be conducted on these communications to verify the content,” said the Haryana police affidavit to the court yesterday.
The police is in the process of preparing a list of colleges/technical institutes with girls’ hostels to identify the anonymous victim.
The first FIR on the alleged gang rapes was registered on February 28 after a woman from Narela in Delhi appeared before a Special Investigation Team comprising three senior women officers, and claimed that she was raped by seven men on the night of February 22. The police and the local community had dismissed her complaint as a family dispute. A local resident told The Wire a month ago that the local panchayat had also condemned her decision as an attempt to defame the Jat community and she was socially ostracised.
Read our previous ground report from Murthal for the background story.
With inputs from PTI