Jawan in 7 days' jail custody

Teen rape in military coach: Army promises all help 

By Our Bureau
  • Published 30.12.15
The jawan (in sleeveless jacket), identified as Manjrish Tripathi, at Howrah. Picture by Subham Jyoti

The army jawan arrested on Sunday in connection with the gang rape of a teenager from Calcutta on the Howrah-Amritsar Express was sent to seven days' jail custody on Tuesday.

A video clip showing the passengers present in the military compartment when a GRP team found the girl lying on a berth, barely conscious, at Kiul in Jharkhand was handed over to army officers of the Eastern Command, along with a list of military personnel who had boarded the train from Howrah on Sunday.

"We have asked the army to provide us with the addresses and current locations of all the personnel present in the compartment. That way we can find the two jawans whom the girl has accused of raping her," an Eastern Railway spokesperson said.

The 15-year-old girl, a resident of Dum Dum, had fled her home early on Sunday and boarded the train in the afternoon to meet a Facebook friend in Ludhiana, police said.

Her parents lodged a complaint with the police and alerted an NGO. Officials of the NGO got in touch with the GRP and two teams of RPF and GRP officers raided the train between Jasidih and Madhupur stations in Jharkhand, the police said.

Arjun Tiwari, the officer in charge of Madhupur GRP, said they had found a jawan trying to offer the girl some snacks.

"We had taken both in custody. On regaining sense, she said she had boarded the military compartment by mistake. She alleged that as soon as the train left Howrah, three jawans, including the one whom we had taken in custody, began harassing her," Tiwari said. He said the girl had alleged that the three had forced her to drink and two of them had raped her inside one of the toilets in the compartment.

The arrested jawan has been identified as Manjrish Tripathi, 31, who is an army driver with the Eastern Command.

The girl had said Tripathi did not rape her but was among the three who forced her to drink, the GRP officer said.

The jawan had claimed that he met the other two on the train and he did not know that they had raped the girl, the officer said.

"Tripathi claimed that the other two jawans had brought the girl to the compartment. But he admitted to drinking with the two jawans and the girl," Tiwari said while handing over the investigation report to the Howrah GRP.

Tiwari and his team brought Tripathi to Howrah on Tuesday. A Howrah court sent him to seven days' judicial custody.

The Eastern Command issued a statement later on Tuesday saying "the army strongly condemns such incidents and it is firmly reiterated that such indisciplined behaviour by any soldier will not be tolerated".

"The army is making concerted efforts to identify the jawans responsible, if any, and bring them to book as quickly as possible. It is also wholeheartedly assisting the police in the investigation," read the army statement.

Tripathi has been charged under sections of gang rape and criminal conspiracy of the IPC and under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. If proved guilty, he can be jailed for life.

Military personnel can be tried in civil courts for serious crimes like rape and murder.

The girl reached Howrah with her parents and a maternal uncle in a car on Tuesday.

She underwent a medical check-up at Howrah General Hospital, after which she was taken to a Howrah court where she recorded her statement before a first class executive magistrate.