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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

Auto driver charged with rape of US tourist in Punjab

The victim had given thorough details on the route taken to Baldev’s house in Kharar that helped police arrest him.

punjab Updated: Aug 29, 2018 09:09 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Aneesha Bedi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
(Representative image )

Over three years after a 24-year-old US national was raped in Kharar during her visit to India as a tourist, a Chandigarh court charged a 32-year-old auto-rickshaw driver with abduction and rape on Tuesday.

The court of additional district and sessions judge Poonam R Joshi framed charges against the accused, Baldev Singh, under Sections 328 (causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence), 342 (wrongful confinement), 366 (kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her marriage, etc), 376 (rape), 392 (robbery) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.

His accomplice, Jaswinder alias Lucky, remains on the run. The matter will now come up for hearing on September 17 when the trial will begin.

January 2015 case

The American woman had come to India in January 2015. In March 2015, she visited Chandigarh where she hailed an auto-rickshaw allegedly being driven by Baldev, a resident of Kharar.

Looking for a low-budget accommodation, she travelled from sector to sector after which Baldev recommended she look in Kharar. After calling his friend Lucky, he drove her to Kharar, where he raped her and robbed her of her laptop and a mobile phone, before abandoning her.

After Baldev was arrested from Ludhiana in December 2017, police contacted the victim to come to India by March 2018 to record her statement and identify the accused. However, she couldn’t make it, and the police thus filed an application to proceed via video conferencing.

Though a lower court approved the request, the matter is pending in the Punjab and Haryana high court that was approached for permission.

Victim neither recorded statement nor identified accused

Till date, the victim has neither recorded her statement before a magistrate nor participated in a parade to identify the accused. The victim had written an e-mail to the then inspector general of Chandigarh police, RP Upadhyaya, alleging she was raped.

The police responded to her e-mail and asked her for more details and her medical report. She had got medically examined in France. The medical report sent was in French, and the Chandigarh police had sought help of Panjab University to get it translated. As per the police challan, the medical report confirmed sexual assault.

How the victim helped so far

The victim had given thorough details on the route taken to Baldev’s house in Kharar that helped police arrest him. The victim also gave contact details of an Ambala man who had offered her help at the ISBT, Sector 43. Police were able to corroborate that, and the man was made a witness in the case.

Other witnesses in the case include the French teacher who translated the medical report, and the doctor who conducted the medical examination in France.

The case so far

Jan 2015: 24-year-old American visits India on tourist visa

March 2015: Was allegedly raped in Kharar

April 2015: Victim sends e-mail narrating her ordeal to IGP

April 2015: Gets medical report in France, that confirmed rape

Feb 2016: FIR lodged at Sector 17 police station

March 2018: Challan filed in court

Aug 2018: Court charges accused with rape, abduction

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 09:07 IST