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Sunday, Aug 25, 2019

Looking to live a normal life, 8-year-old, raped by 5 juveniles, resumes school

The girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by five boys, all from her neighbourhood and including one who is just a year older to her, reportedly after watching porn; her parents believe school will keep her busy and away from thoughts of the ordeal she has been through

dehradun Updated: Jul 29, 2018 22:27 IST
Kalyan Das
Kalyan Das
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
The minor victim joined school six days after she was gang raped.
The minor victim joined school six days after she was gang raped. (Vinay Santosh Kumar/HT Photo)

A group of children is busy playing on the premises of government school in Sahaspur area of Dehradun. The younger and the lighter children are riding piggyback on the older and the sturdier students as they race each other on a grassy field.

Their mirth and laughter is infectious. The scene is serene and calming. So calming that for once, you are lulled into the belief that nothing wrong could happen here. Or, could have happened.

Look closely, and you notice how the children are making it a point to make a little girl comfortable. One also notices how that little girl is clinging on to an elder schoolmate who is carrying her piggyback. She is holding tight, not ready to let go the warmth and the support she is getting.

Just two days ago, that girl was in a hospital undergoing medical tests. A panel of doctors later said the tests had come positive. The girl had been gang raped.

Porn on phone spurs gang rape

Eight years old, she was allegedly sexually assaulted by five boys, all from her neighbourhood and including one who is just a year older to her. The other accused are minors too — one a 10 year old, two others aged 12, and one 14. An initial probe has found the boys allegedly raped the girl on July 12, two days after watching pornography on the mobile phone of the elder brother of the youngest accused. They had lured the girl with the promise of a chocolate to the house of one of the accused. One of them stood guard while others allegedly took turns raping her.

A week later, the girl has resumed her studies. Third among five children of an auto-rickshaw driver father and a farm worker mother, she is in class 3 at the government school in her village. One of her two brothers, who are younger to her, also studies in the same school in class 1.

The scars of the trauma she has been through runs deep. The days the incident took place, the usually chirpy girl retreated into a shell. She wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t eat. And her distraught mother wouldn’t stop asking what was wrong with her.

That night, the girl eventually broke down and in between sobs narrated what those five boys had done to her. The next day her parents informed some of their neighbours and finally decided to lodge a complaint on Sunday evening setting in motion a process that saw six boys — the five accused and a 15-year-old on whose phone they had watched porn — detained and she being sent for a medical examination.

Looking for a normal life

The girl joined school on July 18. Her parents believe school will keep her busy and away from thoughts of the ordeal she has been through.

“Children are innocent beings. She has resumed school and is trying to behave normally with other students. We are trying to make her feel comfortable. The pain sometimes shows on her face. More than physical, her injuries are psychological,” says a teacher employed at the school for the last 17 years.

Another teacher adds, “We have directed the other children not to talk about that incident so that she forgets about it and starts life afresh.”

But “that incident” has left deep scars on the minor girl’s psyche and it is not something she is going to forget anytime soon — a fact that her mother attests to.

“She has resumed studies and is also mingling with the other students at the school. But, once home, she refuses to come outside and doesn’t talk much to anyone. She hasn’t been eating properly since the incident and often complains of stomach ache,” the mother said.

She takes care of the girl but doesn’t discuss the incident with her anymore. She fears it would only deepen the wounds and the girl would further retreat into the shell that she has created around herself.

The meagre earnings of about Rs 10,000 doesn’t permit the family to take the girl to some other location where she could recuperate.

Scars run deep

“We are not sure how much time she’ll take to come out of her shell,” the girl’s maternal aunt said. She lives with the family.

“We never thought something like this would happen with our daughter and that in our own neighbourhood. She is just a child... There is a sense of fear inside us after the incident,” says the aunt.

The girl’s mother affirms. “Apart from her, there are other small children in the house. After that incident, whenever we adults go out for some work, we lock the main gate so that none of the children can go out. We don’t want any other untoward incident with our children,” the mother said.

Safety has also become a top priority at the girl’s school. The girl’s teacher said that the staff now ensures that students go back home only with their parents or guardians. The school gate remains locked at all times.

“We have directed parents to ensure they or some family member picks and drops their wards. It was a shocking incident and we don’t to jeopardise the lives of other children.”

A tense neighbourhood

Meanwhile, the girl’s neighbourhood too is going through tense times. The families in the village are worried over the impact of the incident.

“I have two sons aged 8 and 10. After seeing the movement of police and hearing about the arrest of the five boys of the village, they are now not willing to step out of house even buy chocolates from the nearby general store. They go to school and come back from there only to remain indoors,” said a woman who lives a few meters away from the girl’s house.

That the accused allegedly committed the crime after watching porn on a cellphone is something that has created a fear psychosis among the young ones. Especially after a 15-year-old on whose phone they watched porn was detained.

“Not all boys in the village are like them (the accused),” said the woman. “But even then, the others fear that the police might arrest them too.”

Till July 30, 18 days after the incident, except for the investigating police officials and Uttarakhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (USCPCR) officials, nobody from administration or government had reportedly met the victim or her family.

USCPCR chairperson Usha Negi could not be contacted for comments.

Ironically, the very day the alleged incident took place, addressing the working committee meeting of the ruling BJP at Kashipur in Udham Singh Nagar district, Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat announced that his government will formulate a law to ensure capital punishment for the rapists of minor girls.

Rawat had said his government was concerned over the growing incidents of crimes against minor girls and stricter laws were needed to check them.

“The state government will ensure that those who perpetrate rape on minor girls are sent to the gallows. Efforts are underway to make strict laws in this regard so that such crimes are reined in,” he had said.

Three other BJP-Ruled states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana — have already approved the provision of capital punishment for those found guilty of raping girls aged 12 years or less. The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which provides for stringent punishment including death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years, will be introduced in ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.

The CM’s stern words, it seems, failed to have the desired effect as became evident on Saturday when a 32-year-old man, a father of two, raped and murdered a 11-year-old girl in the same Sahaspur locality.

10-year-old accused’s parents were in hospital with his sister who has been diagnosed with cancer

Just about 10 metres from the 8-year-old victim’s residence in Sahaspur is the house of one of a 10-year-old boy, one of the five juveniles accused of raping her after watching porn. This is the house where the boys took turns sexually assaulting her while one of them stood guard.

When HT visited the locality, only the 10-year-old accused’s father and elder brother were present at the house that bore a gloomy look. It was a double whammy for the father, a daily wage labourer. He and his wife were in a hospital when a neighbour informed that his younger son has been accused of raping a girl at their house and has been detained by the police.

“My younger daughter has been diagnosed with cancer in one of her legs. My wife and I have been spending most of our time at Dehradun’s Jolly Grant Hospital since July 4. The doctors operated her leg on July 11 and the hospital bill has already exceeded Rs 1 lakh. My wife and I were already tensed and contemplating on how to go about arranging the money when we got to about our younger son,” the father said.

The father said his younger cleared class 5 this year from the local school and he was planning to get him admitted to another school. “But before this could happen, I came to know that my son has been booked for this crime. We are shattered. We don’t know what will happen now.”

First Published: Jul 29, 2018 22:26 IST

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