Ranchi, April 28: A 32-year-old BJP worker, associated with the party’s minority cell, was gang-raped before daybreak today at her Chanho home, 40km from Ranchi, allegedly by over 20 men of her own community apparently targeting her for her political affiliation.
According to the FIR with Chanho police station, the woman, her husband and teenaged daughter were woken from sleep when a windowpane at their home in the Masmano area was smashed around 1.30am today. Then, some men took her husband, who had been sleeping near the window, hostage at gunpoint and ordered the petrified lady to open the door. As the woman did so, some 20-22 men took turns in raping her for the next one-and-half hours.
Her ordeal came to an end when a neighbour, noticing some commotion, rushed to the nearby mosque, grabbed the loudspeaker and announced, referring to her husband’s name: “…Unke yahan loot ho rahi hai, bahar niklein, bahar niklein (there’s loot underway at his house, come out, come out)”.
Before the neighbours could arrive, the rapists fled, taking cash and jewellery worth Rs 2.5 lakh with them.
“The rapists left around 3am, right after the public announcement,” spokesperson of state BJP minority cell Kamal Khan said.
Superintendent of police (rural) S.K. Jha said an FIR based on the lady’s statement had been registered against seven persons. One was arrested, but later let off on personal bond.
The woman was sent to sadar hospital in Ranchi for medical examination and brought back home.
“In the FIR, as many as seven men have been named while others are unidentified,” Jha said.
But here, the police have hit on a stumbling block. When the first and only person to have been arrested so far in the case, came to the station, he claimed to be 62 years old and “too old” for “this sort of a crime”.
The FIR also names two of his sons, to which the man claimed he could not have committed the crime with his own children.
Among the others named in the FIR is a repeat offender. “A rape case had been registered against him 12 days ago based on the statement of a minor girl of the same community,” said a Chanho police officer.
State BJP leaders have demanded a high-level inquiry. “If police fail to arrest all the accused within 48 hours, the BJP will launch a statewide agitation in protest against the incident,” former chief minister and senior BJP leader Arjun Munda said.
State president of BJP minority cell Mohammed Kazim claimed the woman was brutalised only because she worked for the BJP. “We demand a high-level inquiry in this matter,” he said.
However, SP Jha said they were proceeding with caution owing to the sensitive nature of the case. “As an allegation of rape has been levelled against father and sons simultaneously, we are yet to reach any conclusion,” he said.
He added that everyone named in the FIR turned up voluntarily after the 62-year-old man’s arrest, pleading innocence and saying the lady had framed them due to “political vendetta and land dispute”.
According to Jha, all the accused named in the FIR were allowed to go home on “personal bond” but asked not to leave Ranchi and appear at the police station whenever asked. “We have decided to arrest no one before examining all angles. The accused also have points for defence,” SSP Prabhat Kumar said.