Jharkhand gangrape case: Two accused arrested, confess to forcing victims to drink urine
The Jharkhand police on Saturday arrested two of the six accused for allegedly abducting and gang raping five women anti-human trafficking activists in Khunti district earlier this week.
A Christian priest, Fr Alfanso Aien of RC Mission School, from where the victims were abducted, was also arrested allegedly for hushing up the crime and having links with the perpetrators.
“The two arrested — Ajub Sandi and Ashish Longo, both residents of West Singhbhum district — confessed to raping the women, video-graphing the act and forcing the victims to drink urine,” additional director general (operations) RK Mallick said.
“Sundi and Longo, believed to be members of a rebel outfit People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) and supporters of Pathalgarhi movement, were also identified by the survivors during TI (test identification) parade,” the ADG said at a press conference along with DIG South Chhotanagpur range AV Homkar and Khunti SP Ashwini Kumar Sinha in Ranchi.
The other four accused have been identified and a search has been launched for them, he said.
All the three arrested were produced before a court which sent them to judicial custody.
Five tribal women, in their twenties, working with an NGO supported by Christian missionary, were abducted by bike-borne armed men while they were performing a street play at RC Mission School in Khunti’s Kochang village under Arki police station, about 90 km from Ranchi, on June 19 afternoon. They were taken to a nearby forest and gang raped.
The ADG said the women were assaulted under a conspiracy hatched out of vengeance by a leader of Pathalgarhi movement, John Jonash Tidu, and ruled out that the perpetrators were moved by strong sexual lust.
Pathalgarhi is a practice adopted by many tribal villages to declare their gram sabha as the only sovereign authority, rejecting the authority of Centre or state government. Huge stone plaques and signboards — called Pathalgarhi in the local dialect — have been put up outside tribal settlements and hamlets across Jharkhand’s Khunti, Simdega, Gumla and West Singhbhum districts, warning visitors from entering, wandering, living or settling down in these villages.
Kochang village too witnessed Pathalgarhi declaring its gram sabha supreme and banning entry of outsiders in the village. The rape survivors had gone to the village to create awareness against social evils, including anti-human trafficking.
“Tidu instigated the accused to give the NGO’s team a lesson for defying the diktats of the gram sabha,” Mallick said, adding, “On his command, the miscreants raided the school premises to abduct the girls. Fr Aien intervened and got two nuns associated with the school released and asked the victims to go with them.”
As per the disclosures made by the arrested persons, the six accused took the entire team on the NGO’s car to a nearby forest area, which is around seven kilometre away from the village. While the male team members were asked to remain confined in the car, the women were taken inside the forest where three accused raped them.
The other three guarded the car. On their return, they made the victims drink urine and warned them not to enter their village again, the ADG said.
He said that the rape survivors were kept under police protection. “Medical treatment and post-trauma counselling are being provided to them for their speedy recovery,” he said.
Meanwhile, a two-member team of the national commission for women (NCW) reached Ranchi and met Khunti deputy commissioner and later went to meet the victims.