Eight men were arrested on Monday on suspicion of involvement in the brutal rape and murder of a mentally challenged Nepalese woman in Rohtak, a crime that caused outrage and revulsion across the country after her body was found with blades and stones shoved inside it.
Announcing the first breakthrough in the case, director general of police Yashpal Singhal said police had arrested eight of the nine men allegedly involved in the gang-rape. One of them was identified as Santosh, a man of Nepali origin who worked at a shop owned by another of the accused.
In the face of strong criticism of its handling of the case, police said action would be taken against personnel found responsible for any lapses in the investigation. "If any lapse on the part of police officials is found, action will be taken as per law against them," Singhal said.
Singhal, who visited the crime scene before addressing a news conference with inspector general of police (Rohtak range) Alok Roy, said the arrested men took turns raping the hapless woman. An autopsy had established that her private parts were torn by the ferocity of the assault.
The other accused were identified as Sombit, Rajesh alias Ghuchru, Sunil alias Shilla, Sarwar alias Billu, Manbir, Sunil alias Maddha, Pawan and Parmod alias
Padam. Sombir is yet to be arrested, police said. The arrested men, all in their twenties, belonged to Gaddi Kheri village, located six kilometers from Rohtak.
The 28-year-old woman, who was living with her sister at Chinyot Colony in Rohtak while undergoing treatment at a hospital, was reported missing on February 1. After her mutilated body was found three days later in a field along the Rohtak-Hisar highway, an autopsy confirmed rape and multiple injuries to the head, chest and thighs.
The autopsy report stated that blades and stones had been shoved into the body, said doctors of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS) in Rohtak. Dr S K Dhattarwal, who led the team that performed the autopsy, said the woman was attacked so brutally that her intestines were damaged.
Singhal said police believed some more persons could have been involved in the crime. "Based on human intelligence and cyber-intelligence probed by DSP Amit Bhatia and CIA-1 in-charge Manoj Verma, we could soon solve the case," he said.
Asked how the victim reached Bahu Akbarpur village, where her body was found at a spot 18 km from her home in Rohtak, police said their investigation had revealed that she “voluntary” left her sister's residence.
In a related development, police enhanced the reward for information on persons who attacked the woman from Rs1 lakh to Rs5 lakh on Monday morning.
The Nepalese woman’s evoked memories of the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in 2012. That incident had sparked a massive public outcry and tougher laws to deter rapists.
The opposition Congress used the crime to target the BJP government in Haryana for its handling of law and order, with party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala saying it was "yet to wake up from its slumber". The Congress demanded the formation of a new special investigation team under an inspector general of police to probe the gang-rape.
Surjewala noted that while the BJP government had spent lakhs of rupees on its 'Beti Bachao Yojana', Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his ministers had not found the time to visit the victim's family.