Two minor girls, aged seven and eight, were raped in a south Delhi temple by a 70-year-old priest on Janmashtami day, at a time when celebrations were on in full swing.
Baba Vishvabandhu, who is also accused of molesting the girls for over a week, was arrested that very day (August 18) after the girls’ parents lodged a complaint at Mehrauli police station.
The incident, which took place in a village near Mehrauli, came to light after the eight-year-old girl complained to her mother of pain in her lower abdomen and difficulty passing urine before finally breaking down in tears and revealing the truth. The mother went to the house of her daughter’s friend, where she too narrated the same story.
The girls told their parents the priest would molest them and put his fingers in their private parts every time they went to the temple to play or to eat ‘prasad’ over the past week. He would threaten them and also offer money and food to buy their silence.
Family members and villagers surrounded the temple, dragged out the priest — a well-known figure in the area — and beat him up before going to the police. The children were taken to AIIMs where a medical test confirmed rape.
The accused was produced before a metropolitan magistrate, who remanded him in judicial custody.
Delhi has been declared one of the most unsafe cities in India for children. Between 2003 and 2013, child rape cases rose five-fold from 140 to 757. Across the country, 58,224 crimes against children were registered in 2013, up 52.5% from the previous year, according to a June 2014 report.
Crimes against women, including rape and molestation, are on the rise in the Capital, even after the enactment of stringent rape laws brought on by the December 2012 gang rape.