Less than two weeks after the brutal rape and murder of a 34-year-old woman in Mumbai’s Saki Naka, the alleged gang-rape of a 15-year-old girl by 33 men over months in Maharashtra’s Thane district has triggered yet another public outrage.
In the latest disturbing case, which came to light on Thursday, the minor was allegedly gangraped multiple times for more than eight months in different locations.
The Manpada Police in Dombivli has, so far, arrested 24 people and detained two minors out of the total 33 accused after registering an FIR on Wednesday.
The police said the girl was undergoing treatment at a government hospital in Kalwa and her condition was said to be stable.
Brutality for months after being blackmailed
Additional commissioner of police (East region) Dattatray Karale the incident took place between January 29 and September 22. The girl told a relative about the ordeal on Wednesday following which the complaint was registered, he added.
The main accused allegedly raped the victim in January made a video of the act and used the video to blackmail her.
“It all started when the girl’s boyfriend allegedly raped her in January and made a video. He then started blackmailing her. Subsequently, his friends and acquaintances raped her at least four or five occasions at different places in the district, including Dombivli, Badlapur, Murbad and Rabale,” Karale said.
SIT formed to probe the case
“The victim has named 33 persons. Of them, 24 have been arrested and two minors detained,” Karale said, adding that search is on for the remaining accused. Most of the accused are reportedly known to the victim.
In the recently released data by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), in 99.8 per cent of rape cases recorded in 2020 in Maharashtra, offenders are known to the victim.
Karale said a special investigation team (SIT) has been formed under Assistant Commissioner of Police Sonali Dhole to probe the case.
The arrested men were produced before a court on Thursday and were remanded in police custody till September 29, said another police official.
The accused have been booked under various sections of the IPC, which includes rape, repeated rape, gang-rape, rape on a woman under sixteen years of age. Sections 4, 6 and 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act have also been slapped against the accused.
Three brutal rape cases within a month
The incident comes against the backdrop of the brutal rape and murder of a 34-year-old woman in Mumbai’s Saki Naka on September 10. The state government had come under fire over the case.
Within days of the Saki Naka case, a 15-year-old girl was allegedly attacked with a hammer and raped in Thane’s Ulhasnagar on September 13.
Governor versus CM over women’s safety
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari recently wrote a letter to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray seeking a special Assembly session to discuss women’s safety.
In response, Thackeray cited rape cases in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat. The chief minister asked Koshyari to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and demand a special session of Parliament on women’s safety in the country.
Maharashtra 4th in rape
According to the NCRB data for the year 2020, Maharashtra is ranked fourth when it comes to crimes against women. The state recorded 53 crimes against women per lakh population, the 10th highest in the country. It also recorded the fourth-highest number of rape incidents in 2020.
Reacting to the latest incident, Shiv Sena leader and deputy chairperson of the Maharashtra Legislative Council Neelam Gorhe said the incident should not be politicised. The survivor should be protected, given counselling and rehabilitated, she said.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis condemned the incident and said rising incidents of violence against women in the state is worrisome. Fadnavis also demanded that the Maharashtra government make special efforts to prevent such crimes.
“Such an incident taking place in Dombivli, which is known as a peaceful city, is very shocking. We demand that the government immediately intervene,” he tweeted.
Nationalist Congress Party and Republican Party of India workers gathered outside Manpada police station and demanded strict action against the accused, The Times of India reported. NCP leader Vidya Chavan visited the Manpada police station during the day. “If the culprits are handed over to us, we will parade them in public,” she told reporters.