The Uttar Pradesh police said on Sunday they have identified three suspects involved in gangrape of a woman and her teenage daughter in Bulandshahr district.
The three have been brought in for questioning and may be arrested soon, UP DGP Javed Ahmed said. Seventeen tribals from nearby villages have also been detained.
The family of six — three men, two women and a 13-year-old girl — were stopped by five to six armed men on the Delhi-Kanpur highway near Dostpur village at 1.30am Saturday, according to a first information report filed later that day. The group allegedly dragged the victims to nearby fields where they tied up the men and an elderly woman and raped the teen and her 35-year-old mother.
“The girl and her mother picked out the three suspects from 200 photographs we pulled out of our database of tribal criminals,” said Meerut DIG Laxmi Singh, confirming that medical reports pointed to sexual assault.
Meanwhile, the state government released suspension orders for seven police officials in this regard.
“The state government has suspended Bulandshahr senior superintendent of police (SSP) Vibhav Krishna, superintendent of police(city) Ram Mohan Singh and circle officer (city) Himanshu Gaurav. Inspector in-charge (Kotwali Dehat) Ram Sen Singh, police outpost (highway) in-charge Pramod Kumar, highway patroling in-charge Rustam and beat constable Anurag Yadav have also been suspended. Five persons have been taken into custody. The victims have identified three of them,” principal secretary (home) Debashish Panda said.
A special team of 300 police personnel from Ghaziabad, Noida, Hapur and Meerut with experience in dealing with tribal criminals has been formed.
Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said he had given the Bulandshahr SSP 24 hours to arrest all the culprits. “Arrest all those involved and the state government will pursue the case strongly in court,” his spokesperson quoted him as saying.
The police suspect the criminals are tribals familiar with the landscape. Citing victims’ statements, sources said the men disappeared into the darkness on foot, taking away money and jewellery. They left behind the car, camouflaging it in the blades of bajra.
“Two attackers were heard saying they did not want to be part of the rape,” Singh said, adding that the tied-up male members were hit with hammers when they protested the sexual assault.
The police reached the spot at 4.15 am after one of the family members untied himself by biting off the ropes. He called the police from his mobile phone, which had been left underneath the car.
Singh said two iron axles were recovered from the spot. The robbers had thrown these at the car to stop it.
The family was attacked while driving to Shahjahanpur village for a relative’s tehravi — a ritual for the dead.
According to their statements, the criminals appeared to be in their 20s and 30s and one in his 40s. They were dressed in half-sleeved T-shirts and jeans and trousers — which they had folded to avoid the muck in the fields.
A case of rape, illegal confinement, robbery and dacoity, and under the provisions of the Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act has been registered.
The incident prompted opposition parties to attack the Samajwadi Party government over ‘jungleraj’ in the state. “The SP government and its head must tell the people if they can return the modesty of women in such a painful and heinous crime,” BSP chief Mayawati said.
Union minister Mahesh Sharma of the BJP said, “When will this end? It shows the state government has collapsed on every front. It cannot save the honour of a daughter.”