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Sikkim rape in forest

- Schoolgirl found hiding in bush

Gangtok, Dec. 30: A teenaged girl was allegedly raped in the Bharlang forest in East Sikkim by four youths on Thursday and was found hiding in the bushes a day after.

“The 14-year-old, who is a farmer’s daughter, had gone to the Bharlang forest to graze goats when the incident occurred. Out of the four accused, two have been arrested and the search for the other two is on,” said Mahendra Subba, the inspector in charge at Pakyong police station in East Sikkim.

The incident has happened in an otherwise quiet state at a time when there is countrywide uproar to give more teeth to rape legislation following the death of the girl in Delhi who was raped in a public bus.

The forest where Sikkim the girl was attacked is 5km from the victim’s house.

Her village is 32km from Gangtok.

Subba said the victim was found hiding in a bush on Friday by a villager who had gone searching for the girl in the forest after she didn’t return home on Thursday.

The family lodged the FIR yesterday.

“She later confided in her mother that she was sexually assaulted by the four men in the forest. The girl has also named the accused persons,” said a senior police source.

Purna Kami, 19, and Nar Bahadhur Kami, 26, two of the four accused have been arrested.

The duo and the absconding two are believed to be distant cousins.

“Purna was arrested on Friday from his home. He broke down during interrogation and admitted to the rape. Nar Bahadhur Kami has said he molested the girl a few days before the alleged rape,” said Subba.

Purna has been sent to judicial custody at the Rongyek Jail and Nar Bahadhur has been detained.

The other two accused Man Bahadur Kami, 26, and a 14-year-old are absconding.

Three of the accused are casual labourers and the 14-year-old is a driver’s helper. All the accused are from Kitgolai Pacheykhani village, 3km from where the girl lives.

The girl’s medical test report from the STNM Hospital is awaited.

“We would be able to comment further after the pathology report is released by the hospital, the report is expected to come by Monday,” said a senior police officer.

The police have registered a rape case under Section 376 of the IPC against the accused. If proven guilty, one can be imprisoned for life.

“The family is a middle-class one of six and the father earns a livelihood by farming. This is shameful act and the accused should be booked under a stringent law. It has defamed the name of our village,” said the local panchayat member Munna Bhushal.

The chairperson of the Sikkim State Women’s Commission, Subhadhra Rai, said: “We will meet the victim and the family on Monday.”

Sources in the crime department said 18 rape cases were registered in Sikkim in 2011 and 28 have been registered between January and October in 2012.