The mystery over alleged incidents of gang rape in Murthal during the Jat agitation deepened on Saturday with three men claiming to be witnesses — the first in the case — surfacing before the media and then going missing without approaching the police.
The police were still trying to locate the three men who told TV news channels they had seen a mob drag women into the fields along national highway 1 on Sunday, when the reservation stir had engulfed Sonepat district and most of Haryana in violence.
Deputy Inspector General Rajshree Singh, who is heading a three-member all-woman special investigation team that visited the site on Saturday, told HT, “We are trying to contact some of them, but they are not responding. We will now try to trace their locations to seek their help in the investigation.”
The police have so far maintained “no incident of molestation and rape took place on February 21 night”, citing the testimony of the owners of 13 vehicles that were torched on NH1 that day. An investigation was launched after the Punjab and Haryana high court took suo moto cognizance of a media report of the alleged crime.
Niranjan Singh, a truck driver, told a TV channel he saw women being dragged to the fields and their clothes torn by a mob at around 2am on February 21. “I was in my truck and saw this from some distance. I could not see what happened further.”
Yadwinder, travelling in a bus that was caught in the mayhem, claimed to have seen three women with children and some men trying to save themselves from a group of people. “I was at a distance but clearly saw the three women with torn clothes trying to escape.”
Satbir Satti of Adampur city first told TV channels he saw women being “raped” but changed his statement in the evening. “I don’t want to conclude if women were raped. I only said I saw around 200 people at around 3am and some women running for cover,” he told HT.
Police said they had the phone numbers of Niranjan Singh —switched off in the evening — and Yadwinder.
DIG Singh said they were yet to get any leads or complaints, though a woman had called up the SIT and said she would visit them on Sunday. “We are waiting for her to come tomorrow,” she said, urging “anyone with concrete proof to approach the team without fear”.
Haryana chief minister ML Khattar also appealed to people to come forward if they had information to share.
In Murthal, around 60km from Delhi, the SIT recorded the statements of locals. The DIG said the clothes recovered from the spot had already been sent to a forensic lab and the report was awaited.