Two girls, who drowned after they jumped into a pond during a police raid at an alleged red-light area in Bharatpur, were cremated Wednesday afternoon even as a political drama played out throughout the day.
The girls, both minors, had jumped into the pond Tuesday evening to escape detention when police raided four settlements comprising 50 houses along the Jaipur-Agra highway in Bharatpur inhabited by Bedias, a nomadic tribe known for its young girls taking up prostitution as a “family business”.
The raid was reportedly conducted on the basis of complaints lodged by local residents. Police claimed that its teams wanted to rescue the girls “forced into the trade”. However, Bedias claimed that policemen chased the girls and threatened to shoot them following which they jumped into the pond to save themselves.
They also denied forcing the girls from the tribe into prostitution. “When they attain puberty, we ask them if they want to study or get into this business. They get into the trade of their own free will,” a resident of one of the settlements said.
On Wednesday morning, people from settlements met Congress MLA Vishvendra Singh at his house. Singh, who belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Bharatpur, visited the mortuary of RBM Hospital where the bodies were kept and convinced the families of the both girls for post-mortem.
Meanwhile, Bharatpur district collector handed over cheques of ₹51,000 each to the families of the two girls.
However, when the bodies were taken to the settlement for cremation, BJP MLA from Bharatpur, Vijay Bansal, reached there and reportedly asked the people to demand action against police. He also said that will raise the issue in the Assembly and demand legal action against additional superintendent of police Bharat Lal Meena, who led Tuesday’s raid. Bharatpur mayor Shiv Singh was also with him.
Soon, the Congress MLA too arrived there and urged the locals not to indulge in politics.
The bodies were cremated around 3pm.
Meanwhile, police booked 15 people, including nine women, for “buying minor girls for prostitution” and several sections of kidnapping and slavery. These people were arrested on Tuesday night under section 151 of the CrPC but later booked under different IPC sections.
Police said they have lodged two cases in Sewar police station. In the first, three men and six women, all Bedias, were arrested from Bagdhari settlement. The second case is against three men and as many women, who were arrested from Panchhi Ka Nagla.