The police in Meghalaya on Thursday charge-sheeted independent MLA Julius Kitbok Dorphang and five others for the trafficking and sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl more than a month ago.
Dorphang was arrested on January 7 for allegedly raping the minor girl in a Shillong guesthouse run by the son of Meghalaya home minister HDR Lyngdoh in December last year. He had also allegedly raped the girl in a resort 20km from Shillong.
“The officer-in-charge of Laitumkhrah Police Station (where the case was filed) charge-sheeted Dorphang and five others for their involvement in the case and submitted it to the court of the special judge for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012,” Shillong superintendent of police Vivek Syiem said.
Dorphang was chargesheeted for committing “aggravated penetrative sexual assault by a public servant and committing the same more than once”. The others – three of them women – have been charged with “procuration and inducement” of a minor girl for prostitution.
Syiem said the police examined 42 witnesses in connection with the case and supplementary charge-sheet will be submitted against the accused after further evidence is received.
Women’s rights groups in Meghalaya have been seeking exemplary punishment for Dorphang besides demanding Lyngdoh’s resignation. State chief minister Mukul Sangma has, however, defended Lyngdoh.
The high-profile case has put the spotlight on rising incidents of crime against women, seen as a shame for Meghalaya where the three main tribes – Khasi, Jaintia and Garo – are matrilineal.
National Crime Records Bureau datasay Meghalaya reported 452 cases of child rapes between 2001 and 2011. Among the eight north-eastern states, the state was second to Tripura where 457 cases were reported during the period.
Meghalaya Police crime records say only 26 rape cases were registered in 2001, increasing gradually to 183 in 2013. The number of cases dipped to 93 in 2015 but 60% of the rape survivors that year were found to be minor girls.