Two girls including a minor were allegedly kidnapped from Jharkhand’s capital and gang-raped by more than 10 unidentified persons, police said on Monday, highlighting the rising incidents of crime against women in the tribal-majority state.
State Commission for Women chairperson Mahua Manjhi, who met the victims, however, said the girls’ “statements appeared contradictory”.
Lalpur police station in-charge Madan Kumar Thakur said a manhunt has been launched to trace the accused after the two girls – aged 19 and 17 years – lodged an FIR with Lalpur police station on Monday morning.
The incident allegedly took place on Sunday when the two girls were forced into a Maruti vehicle by a group of men and taken to a desolate, hilly area on the outskirts of Ranchi and sexually assaulted.
The victims, who also appeared before the media, said they were kidnapped by a group of five-six men with faces hidden behind scarves at around 8 pm from Circular Road, where the girls reside.
“We were then taken to Bariyatu pahari (hills) where they raped us one by one. Somehow we managed to flee from the spot around 2 in the night,” one of the victims said between sobs.
The accused allegedly took away the victims’ mobile handsets and ID cards.
“We do not know them but we can identify them if they appear in front of us,” the girl added.
Ranchi superintendent of police Jaya Roy expressed confidence that the accused will be nabbed soon.
The chairperson for the state women’s panel said the body will “take action any only after the medical examination report (is submitted).”
The incident rocked the assembly on Monday with Opposition parties criticising the BJP-led government for the deteriorating law and order situation.
Former chief minister and leader of opposition Hemant Soren highlighted the deteriorating law and order situation in the state capital and demanded prompt action in the case.
“Incidents of rape have increased by 34% in one year under the BJP government. The government has failed to ensure proper policing and supervision,” JMM spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya said.
Ranchi legislator and urban development minister CP Singh, however, denied the charges and said that “stern action will be taken against the perpetrators”.
Police records show a steady rise in incidents of rape in the state capital, with 84 cases registered in 2011 which rose to 131 in 2014. In 2015, police have registered 130 rape cases till September in the state capital.
In order to contain crime against women, the state government has launched several initiatives in Ranchi like a mobile app and a women’s helpline number.
However, of the three teams of Shakti Vahini, a special police patrolling van for women security, only one is functional, a source said.
Besides sexual assaults, Jharkhand is also notorious for rampant trafficking of tribal girls who are forced into a life of bonded labour or prostitution.