A student of a preparatory school, on her way home in a private bus with her two brothers, was sexually assaulted by the conductor on Monday.
The incident took place in Khunti, 40km from the state capital, around 2pm. Angry residents later chased the bus to Tupudana, on the outskirts of Ranchi, thrashed culprit Babban Khan (40) and handed him over to police.
The six-year-old victim, daughter of a daily-wage labourer and resident of Hutar, was taken to hospital for medical tests, which confirmed assault and unnatural sex.
Though police initially charged Babban with “attempt to rape and unnatural sex”, member of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) Sanjay Mishra said the bus conductor faced a minimum seven years in prison under Sections 3 and 4 of the POCSO Act.
According to B. Das, the officer-in-charge of Khunti police station, the child, like every day, was headed home — 7km away from school — on the Chaibasa-Ranchi bus along with her two elder brothers, aged eight and 10.
The bus was not crowded, but the conductor offered the little girl a seat on his lap. Her brothers allowed her, hoping she would be safe from the bumpy ride home.
“Back home, the girl’s aunt noticed bloodstains on her underwear and questioned her brothers. The boys too are young and could not say what might have happened. So, family members came to the police station. We sent her for a medical examination,” Das said.
Khunti civil surgeon Vijay Nath Khanna confirmed that the child had been subjected to unnatural sex, which could technically be termed rape.
“She was brought to sadar hospital and a medical examination was conducted. She is in a state of shock, but her physical condition was not serious. We discharged her after the tests,” he said.
Tupudana police confirmed that Babban had been arrested. “We have sent him to jail. The bus, which is the scene of crime, has also been seized,” said an officer.
Khunti superintendent of police M. Tamil Vanan confirmed sexual assault. “The victim is in trauma and hence, has not been able to narrate what exactly happened to her. So, police are considering it as a case of unnatural sex. Further investigations are needed (to call it rape),” he said.
The laws of the country label any form of unwanted and imposed act of sexual behaviour, especially against a prepubescent minor, as rape. Such a crime is punishable with life term and, in some cases, even death sentence.
SP Tamil Vanan said the trial would be conducted in a fast-track court.
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