The crime branch of Odisha police on Saturday ruled out rape in the much publicised assault on the dalit girl of Pipili in Puri district, but said attempt was made to murder her.
Filing chargesheets against two persons in the court of judicial magistrate first class (JFMC) at Pipili, about 15 km east of Bhubaneswar, the crime branch said it examined a number of people including witnesses, experts and doctors but did not find any evidence to substantiate the allegation of rape.
The charge sheet however said that the main accused Prashant Pradhan tried to kill the victim by strangulating her by her dupatta because he felt "betrayed" by her. Thinking that she had died, he ran away after seeing and approaching tractor.
The other accused, Sukanta Pradhan alias Abua, Prashant’s brother, threatened the family of the victim, the chargesheet said.
“A total of 67 persons have been made witnesses in the case,” crime branch inspector general Abhay told reporters in Cuttack.
J Kundu, additional superintendent of police, criminal investigation department of crime branch, said investigation revealed that Prashant had been friendly with the victim and developed a feeling of intimacy for her.
"Few months prior to the incident, Prashant came under the impression that the victim had become friendly with other young persons and was avoiding his company. Accordingly, he developed a sense of betrayal," Kundu said in a press release, adding that he wanted to kill her because of that.
The 19-year-old girl, who is now struggling for her life in the SCB Medical College Hospital at Cuttack, was found in a serious condition on November 29 last year in a village under Pipili police station. She was admitted to the local hospital and then referred to Capital Hospital on November 29.
In between November 29 to December 14 the comatose girl was found in and out of Capital Hospital and SCB Medical College twice.
The girl’s family, which alleged she was gang raped, claimed they had lodged a complaint on November 29 but the Pipili police did not take any action. It was after the intervention of the State Women’s Commission on January 7 that her plight attracted limelight.
The local police registered the case on January 9 following the intervention of Orissa high court, State Women’s Commission and State Human Rights Commission.
The incident raised public outcry across the state resulting in dismissal of the then Pipili police station in charge Ak Champatiray, transfer of the then Puri district superintendent of police SN Sinha and resignation of local MLA Pradip Maharathi as agriculture minister.
The state government ordered a crime branch investigation, which arrested four persons, including Prashant and Abua, for their involvement in the
crime. It also initiated a judicial inquiry into the incident.