Investigators worked off just a first name, Mintu, to nab two accused in the gangrape of a 15-year-old homeless girl in Delhi, adopting a time-tested method of searching from house to house in one of the most densely populated areas in the capital.
The minor survivor gave birth to a premature baby on December 31, after she was sexually abused by five accused, all of them minors, over several months in the Mayur Vihar Phase I area.
Three of the five accused are still absconding.
Often criticised for slow pace of investigations, especially in cases of sexual assaults, the breakthrough in this case has been hailed in Delhi Police as an example of sticking to the basics and persevering in the face of odds.
“We were left with no option but to search for the suspect named Mintu (name changed), the only clue the girl provided to us…five teams were formed to develop the clue, identify the suspects and bring them to book at the earliest,” said a senior investigating officer.
Police said the traumatised rape survivor was not able to recall physical descriptions despite even several counselling. She was rescued in an unconscious state on December 29 from a pavement near the metro station’s parking lot and regained her senses only on January 3.
The teams went to work as soon as a case was registered under different sections including that of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POSCO).
With no specific lead, lack of description of the accused, lack of eyewitnesses and electronic evidence such as CCTV camera footage, the police resorted to their conventional style of investigation that includes gathering information through criminal intelligence networks and door-to-door search operations.
For a week, from January 3 to 9, the police teams went from house to house in the Dallupura village, Khichripur, Pandav Nagar and other areas around the Mayur Vihar-I metro station, searching for one Mintu.
More than two dozen boys with that name and living in the nearby areas were rounded up, their photographs taken and shown to the rape survivor, the police official said. However, the exhaustive operation did not yield any result as she said none among them was Mintu.
Faced with a roadblock, the investigations slowed down. But police was yet to give up.
As the teams kept going back to area one of them rounded up a group of six minors, all alleged snatchers who operated in the area.
One among them was Mintu.
“Our team members heaved a sigh of relief when one of the boys identified himself as Mintu and also confessed that he along with his friends had been sexually exploiting the girl,” said the officer.
His interrogation led to the nabbing of the second juvenile accused who was also among the six apprehended. Their photographs were shown to the girl and “she identified both of them”.
A police official said the survivor is being taken care of by an NGO, police and authorities at the Lal Bahadur Shastri hospital, where her premature baby girl is under observation in the intensive care unit.
“We are coordinating with the child welfare committed and NGOs to help the minor girl get back to the mainstream. All possible steps will be taken to rehabilitate her,” said Ombir Singh, DCP (east).
“All requisite steps will be taken to secure the baby’s future.”