Dalit Woman Gangraped in Alwar, Police Allegedly Kept Her Waiting Until After Polls

The woman's family said the police kept putting them off, saying they were busy with the elections, and only began investigating later. The SP has been removed and the SHO suspended.

Jaipur: In Rajasthan’s Alwar, a week-old gangrape of an 18-year-old Dalit woman has come to light only after the elections in the state ended. On the one side, the woman’s family has alleged that the police asked them to wait, citing their election “workload”, while on the other, the opposition claims that the ruling Congress government kept mum to protect its Gujjar vote bank.

According to the FIR registered by the survivor, the incident took place on April 26, three days ahead of the first phase of polling in Rajasthan. The woman was travelling with her husband on a motorcycle when the suspects blocked their path on the Thanagazi-Alwar bypass and dragged them to an isolated area, where they allegedly raped the woman in front of her husband.

“Five men stopped us on the bypass that day. They hit us and raped my wife, one by one, as the remaining four held me,” the woman’s husband told The Wire.

The suspects also made a video of the crime and before finally uploading it on the social media on May 4, they blackmailed the woman to pay them Rs 10,000 to delete the video. The survivor has stated that the accused were calling her husband daily and telling him to pay them, or else they would upload the video. However, the SHO paid no attention when they requested him to intervene. “When we complained the police about the video, the SHO said if they will upload the video on social media, we’ll add another section to the FIR,” said the husband.

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An FIR was lodged against five accused – Chotelal alias Sachin, Jeetu, Ashok and two others – under Sections 376-D (gangrape), 354-B (criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3(2)(v) of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The accused were seen laughing while raping the woman in the video. “We are still in a state of trauma. Their smiling faces while torturing us haunt us as we close our eyes,” her husband said.

According to the survivor, the accused Chotelal and Ashok belong to the Gujjar community. It is also put forth that the incident was ‘concealed’ from the media to save the Congress’s Gujjar vote bank in Alwar. In the recent by-poll in Alwar, it is said that the Congress party won the Ramgarh seat with the support of the Gujjar community.

The police official reached the victims’ house for investigation only after the news came out in the media and more importantly, when the elections were over. “After more than a week, the police finally reached out to us. Initially, they always said they are occupied with the elections,” said the husband.

The opposition has blamed the current dissension for increasing violence against women in the state. “The increase in heinous crimes that put humanity to shame exposes Congress’s claims about providing safe environment to women in the state,” former chief minister Vasundhara Raje tweeted.

Alleging that the incident was concealed by the Congress government due to elections, Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) state president Madan Lal Saini has demanded the resignation of chief minister Ashok Gehlot.

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The state government on Tuesday removed Alwar superintendent of police Rajeev Pachar and suspended Sardar Singh, SHO of the Thanagazi police station. One assistant sub-inspector, Roop Narayan, and three constables, Ram Ratan, Mahesh Kumar and Rajendra, have been line attached. At a press conference in the state capital on Tuesday, director general of police Kapil Garg said one of the accused has been arrested while 14 teams have been set up to nab others.

Condemning the incident, chief minister Ashok Gehlot also issued a statement later on Tuesday. “Strict action will be taken against the police if any negligence or irregularity will be found. The government is fully committed to women’s protection and has directed all police officers to give it special attention,” he said.

Meanwhile, another gangrape – of a 20-year-old woman by three men – was reported in the Thanagazi area on Tuesday.