Masihuzzama Ansari | India Tomorrow
RANCHI, SEPTEMBER 12—The Hazaribagh District in Jharkhand is all tense after the body of a Muslim teenager was found in the rented flat of a youth belonging to another community on September 2 in Palamu, some 200 km from her hometown. With victim’s family leveling allegations of gang-rape and torture of their daughter, the local youths organized a protest demanding justice for the family. Following the protest, the local police have booked 400 persons in the FIR.
Meanwhile, the police have apprehended the juvenile youth in whose rented apartment, the body was found on Sept 2. According to the police, the accused during interrogation told them that the girl committed suicide. However, her family members have rebuffed the police theory and alleged that it was a killing and a murder case be immediately lodged in connection with the gruesome incident. The family openly stated that they strongly believed that the girl was gangraped before being bumped off and later vested interests were trying to pass the case as a suicide.
The victim, a final year BCom student of Hazaribagh Women’s College, had left her house on September 2 to her college to submit her project and did not return since then. Her corpse was found on September 5.
The family members informed India Tomorrow that they had lodged a missing complaint at Hazaribagh Police Station and searched for her for the next three days. On September 5, her body was found some 200 kms away in a rented apartment of a youth belonging to other faith.
According to the family members, her body bore deep injury marks indicating that she was brutally assaulted before being murdered. The family members also believe that she might have been gangraped by some other person before being murdered and demanded a detailed and professional investigation into the case.
Her brother said, “The body had injury mark all over as if somebody had assaulted her physically. Her right leg and hand were fractured. A nail was found pierced in her face and we strongly suspect that she might have been gangraped before being killed,” he said.
The family has demanded that besides the main accused who has been arrested, the other accused must also be put behind the bars by the local police at the earliest and the scope of investigation be expanded.
The incident sparked off a protest rally in which angry citizens especially the youth took to the street demanding justice. The police promptly lodged an FIR against 400 persons in which it stated that 350 persons were unidentified and named 40 of them.
Her brother further alleged that he was tortured by the police even though he did not participate in the protests. “The policemen took me to the police station and detained me overnight and even confiscated my mobile phone. This they did as part of investigation of the protest rally of which I was never a part of,” he alleged.
Hazaribagh SP Karthik S told India Tomorrow, “We have arrested the youth in whose room the girl’s body was found and he is being interrogated for his role in the case. Social media records reveal that the victim and the accused were known to each other through social media. They were in regular touch with each other and both are juvenile. The girl went to meet him in Palamu. Both of them consumed poison with the intention to commit suicide. The duo decided to hang themselves to death. However, the girl who took the first step died instantly and seeing her death, the youth got afraid and informed his family members over phone about the incident”, he said.
Replying specifically to the family allegations of torture and gangrape, Karthik said, “The post mortem report will bring more clarity in the case. However, some people are using their morphed pictures for circulation on social media which is wrong and an investigation has been ordered in connection with the incident,” he said.
Family members have strongly alleged that the police were investigating the case from the accused point of view and treading the dotted line rather than investigating it from the point of injuries inflicted on her body by the accused and their allegations.
Women Against Violence & Exploitation, an NGO working for women’s rights in the area had tweeted the incident to official twitter handle of Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren demanding strict action against the culprits. Soren retweeted that he has ordered strict action in connection with the murder. Social workers keeping a close eye on the case said that the police must investigate on the lines of gangrape as alleged by the family members and if need be, expand the scope of investigation and arrest the other accused in the case.
Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) Hazaribagh co-ordinator Mohammad Tasleem told India Tomorrow, “This murder is connected with two districts and the administration’s statement is very confusing. First, it was said that both had consumed poison, then they hung themselves to the roof in which the accused did not die but the girl died. The injuries on the corpse including a nail found pierced in her face is a pointer towards a major conspiracy as alleged by the family. This angle cannot be ruled out and the murder must be investigated with all seriousness and the police must ensure that culprits are not spared at any cost”.
Prominent Muslim intellectual and Special IG (retd) Abdur Rahman tweeted on September 9 to CM Soren, stating, “As per reports received from Jharkhand, Hazaribagh police are troubling the family of the girl and there is organised attempt to protect the accused and his associates. Sorenji assert yourself by transferring the case to CID & ensure justice,” Rahman stated.