The stepson of local BJP corporator, grandson of a Congress corporator and sons of two advocates are among the 11 arrested for the gangrape of two girls from Betma by 16 people.
In what was a big blot on the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government that runs ambitious schemes such as the Ladli Laxmi and Beti Bachao, even passers-by joined the rapists instead of trying to save the girls. The act was filmed and the MMS circulated.
The incident happened on February 10, but the matter came to light only on Friday, after the girls' parents lodged a complaint. The girls belong to Gawali Mohalla of Betma town, 45 km west of Indore. The girls' fathers are labourers.
According to the FIR lodged by one of the victims, she had been called to a forested spot by one Javed who she was in love with. When she and her cousin reached the spot, Javed, Vishal Bharat (son of BJP corporator Vikram Bharti) and 14 others allegedly raped the girls. Before letting them go, the accused even threatened to kill them if they informed anyone about the incident. Fearing that the girls might still report the matter to the police, the accused blackmailed them with the MMS clip.
Five of the accused are still absconding. Those arrested have been charged with gangrape (which attracts rigorous imprisonment not less than 10 years) and criminal intimidation. The case would be heard by a fast-track court.
The incident shocked the state, with Chouhan directing Indore police IG Anuradha Shankar and SSP to take stern action against the culprits. The gangrape has also given the Congress ammunition against the BJP government, which criticised the government for its failure in maintaining law and order.
Speaking to HT, Betma police station in-charge Dilraj Singh Baghel confirmed the rape.
There is outrage among local residents. The police have been put on high alert and have been deployed at the houses of the accused. The state women's commission met the victims.