Two minor girls drowned after they jumped into a pond to escape detention during a police raid at an alleged red-light area near the Keoladeo National Park in Bharatpur on Tuesday.
Another minor has been rescued, and police have launched a search to locate several others who also took the drastic step. The raid was reportedly conducted on the basis of complaints lodged by local residents.
Inspector general of police (Bharatpur range) Alok Vashistha said three police teams were deployed to raid the locality located near the world heritage site on the Bharatpur-Jaipur national highway. “Two bodies were recovered from the pond, and a dozen people involved in prostitution have been detained,” Vashistha said. Denying reports of police excess, he said: “Our intention was merely to crack the prostitution racket.”
However, a few witnesses accused police personnel of beating the girls without verifying the facts. “They came right out of the blue, caught the girls, and started thrashing them,” said Mala Jarda, a local resident, blaming the police’s inept handling of the situation for the deaths.
Upon receiving several complains of prostitution at Malah, Bharatpur district collector Narendra Kumar Gupta had held a meeting with superintendent of police Kailash Chandra Bishnoi a few days ago. It was then that the authorities decided to conduct the raid, said Vashistha.