Ruchika Girhotra case: After 26-year fight, Anands ‘partially satisfied’ with verdict | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Ruchika Girhotra case: After 26-year fight, Anands ‘partially satisfied’ with verdict

india Updated: Sep 24, 2016 14:31 IST
Bhartesh Singh Thakur
Ruchika Girhotra

Anand Prakash and his wife Madhu Prakash, who fought for 26 years to get justice for Ruchika, in Panchkula on Friday. (Sant Arora/HT)

“We used to avoid going to court in the same vehicle as we feared being killed in an accident. SPS Rathore was DGP and close to then CM Om Prakash Chautala. It was mental torture during those days,” remembered Madhu Prakash.

Both Anand Prakash and Madhu expressed that they were only partially satisfied with the verdict of the Supreme Court upholding conviction of former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore as punishment has been reduced. The couple had fought for 26 years to see justice for Ruchika Girhotra. In trial court alone, they had attended more than 400 hearings. The case later reached the sessions court, the high court and the Supreme Court.

On August 12, 1990, Ruchika and her friend Aradhana, daughter of Anand Prakash and Madhu, had visited SPS Rathore’s house-cum-Haryana Lawn Tennis Association (HLTA) office in Sector 6, Panchkula. Rathore had sent Aradhana away on pretext of calling a coach and started molesting Ruchika. He let her go only when Aradhana returned.

Aradhana’s testimony had led to Rathore’s conviction in the trial court, but it was her mother Madhu Prakash, 67, a law graduate and housewife, who had filed the petition in the high court for registration of FIR against Rathore which was allowed. The FIR was registered in 1999.

“It is a relief that conviction is upheld but the SC has remitted his punishment. He had served only 6-month jail and will no longer have to serve any more,” she said.

“It has taken 26 years to reach here. Had it not taken so much time, Ruchika wouldn’t have to commit suicide,” she added.

Ruchika committed suicide on December 28, 1993. She was 14-year-old at that time.

“We had decided that we will take it to logical conclusion,” said Madhu.

“It is in our blood (to fight back),” said Anand Prakash, 73.

Family suffered

Due to the Anand family’s stand against Rathore, life became tough for it. Anand Prakash, who was serving as chief engineer in Haryana State Agriculture Marketing Board (HSAMB) faced transfers, chargesheets and political pressure.

“When Ruchika came to me, I told her you had to face a lot of difficulties. Even after her death we didn’t leave the case,” he said.

“Rathore got issued more than 9 chargesheets against me. Surcharge notices were also there. I was suspended for 2 years because of this case. But it emboldened me to fight back. It did not affect me…Due to his influence, I was prematurely retired by the state government. I approached the high court, which quashed the government order. This case is still pending with the high court,” he added.

“Rathore got him transferred to far-off places like Rohtak. I used to be alone at home with children. Policemen in plain clothes used to keep a watch on us,” said Madhu.

Anand Prakash said Rathore never approached him directly to settle the case, but sent messages through his relatives, in-laws of daughters and through IAS officers. “But I said had Ruchika been alive he could have a dialogue with her. He couldn’t have a dialogue with me,” he said.

One battle still remains

The CBI had registered cases related to the alleged torture of Ashu Girhotra, brother of Ruchika, and forging of signature of SC Girhotra, father of Ruchika, but closure reports were filed.

However, the CBI is yet to give its findings in abetment to suicide of Ruchika. “We will fight abetment to suicide case. SC Girhotra had told me that he would fight for it,” said Anand Prakash.

SC Girhotra did not answer phone calls on Friday. The family had usually avoided media.

‘Rathore SAID we can’t put him in jail even for a day’

It was the testimony of Aradhana Gupta, 40, which had led to former Haryana DGP SPS Rathore’s conviction in trial court in the Ruchika molestation case. She was the eyewitness of the molestation incident.

On Friday, when the apex court upheld Rathore’s conviction, she expressed satisfaction but added that he should have got more punishment.

“Once during a court hearing at Ambala, he told me that that we couldn’t send him to jail even for a day,” she said.

She added, “Ruchika had gone through so much pain. People should know that Rathore did this heinous act.”

Aradhana was a close friend of Ruchika Girhotra. They used to play tennis together at HLTA courts in Panchkula.

“Ruchika was very close to me. Her mother had died, so my mother used to play that part,” she said.

“She was very peppy and chirpy. Only after Rathore molested her, she lost her smile. She never trusted anyone. She stopped coming out of her house. I used to take her out for market,” she added. “When her brother (Ashu Girhotra) was implicated in false cases and harassed, she broke down. She was very strong. It was probably for a moment when she felt weak and committed suicide,” she said.

Ruchika committed suicide on December 28, 1993. She was 14-year-old at that time.

Aradhana said besides her family, Ruchika’s family supported her. Aradhana did her MBA from Kurukshetra University and is currently running an institute in Ambala.