Hearing-impaired 11-year-old raped for months in Chennai, 17 arrested
Chennai police on Tuesday arrested 17 men including security guards, electricians and plumbers who allegedly raped an 11-year-old hearing impaired girl in an apartment block over the past seven months.
All the accused were produced in the Saidapet Mahila court where some of them were beaten up by a group of lawyers as public anger and shock at the child’s assault spiralled. In a video of the assault, which has gone viral, a group of men in white shirts and black trousers are seen dragging a man from a staircase, beating him with fists and kicking him on his stomach while police personnel struggled to protect the accused.
Charged with raping a minor, under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), the court sent all the accused to judicial custody till July 31.
The police said they are looking out for a few more suspects involved in the crime that has left Chennai shocked and furious.
“We are taking it as a special case and working on it,” a police officer said.
Video: Rape accused thrashed by lawyers in a court in Chennai
Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) announced that no advocate will appear for the arrested members. “We have requested the legal fraternity to stay away from appearing for the accused and we will also appeal against the state legal aid services if they move the mandatory bail petition for the accused,” said MHAA president G. Mohana Krishnan.
Police said the girl was first sexually assaulted by a 66-year-old lift operator after she returned from school and was cycling around the complex and later several others joined in the assault. He allegedly invited other men who filmed each other raping the child.
The accused allegedly took the girl to various places in the complex including the basement, terrace, gym and public restrooms to rape her.
The officer said the victim identified all the accused. At least four of them have confessed to the assault and two others said they had molested the girl, the official added.
The girl’s parents lodged a complaint on Monday with the All Women Police Station in Vepery after which police swung into action. Based on the complaint, police first arrested a lift man and picked up two of his accomplices on the intervening night of Monday-Tuesday.
“With the investigations leading to more suspects, a total of 24 are to be charged under rape,” a senior police official told HT. Special teams have been formed to nab the absconding suspects, he said.
The girl has been referred to a government hospital for medical examination and the reports will soon be filed in the court, the official said.
According to police, the victim is a second daughter of a north Indian family settled in Chennai. The girl’s father in his complaint said that his daughter was suffering from periodic stomach aches and enquiries by her mother revealed that the child was sexually abused by a group of men from January 15 to July 5, the complaint said adding that the gang threatened the victim with dire consequences.
The child is also said to have been sedated a couple of times and this charge will be added only after a thorough investigation. Some used syringes have been picked up from the apartment for forensic examination. Police are also examining CCTV camera footage of the apartment block. Some of the arrested allegedly took nude pictures of the victim and the mobile phones of all those arrested are being examined, police said.
Tamil Nadu Association for the rights of differently-abled and caregivers (TARATDAC) condemned the sexual attack and demanded capital punishment for the offenders. “Sexual attacks against differently-abled go unchecked in TN. Recently a 17 year old girl who cannot hear was raped and killed in a village at Sivaganga district. Now, an 11-year-old child with hearing impairment has been abused,” said S Namburajan, state general secretary, TARATDAC.
The crime dominated Twitter under the hashtag Chennaihorror. “Rape itself is a heinous crime but repeated rape of a differently abled child calls for a death sentence,” tweeted political commentator Sumanth Raman.
PMK founder Dr Ramadoss also condemned the sexual attack on the child and urged the parents to spend quality time with their kids, so that such attacks are avoided.
The crime is the latest in a series of rape of minors in the country. Earlier this month, a 99-year-old retired school principal was arrested in Chennai for allegedly raping a 10-year-old girlwhile a 38-year-old man allegedly assaulted the 14-month-old daughter of his nephew in Vidisha near Bhopal on Saturday.