Thursday, March 16, 2017

Bombay HC orders cops to find Delhi model and teen who claims rape by over 100 people

The Bombay high court on Wednesday ordered the Pune police to trace a Delhi-based model aged 24 and a 16-year-old Nepalese girl who were allegedly raped and forced into prostitution in Pune. The Nepalese girl had alleged that she was sexually assaulted by over 100 men, including police officers.

"The allegations are of a very serious nature and we are concerned about the whereabouts of the victims. Make sincere efforts to trace them," a division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Revati Dere said. The bench was hearing a petition by Delhi-based advocate Anuja Kapur, who sought the transfer of the case to the CBI saying the two survivors are untraceable for over six months. The advocate expressed fears that they might have been eliminated as the accused, cops among them, are people of influence.

The high court slammed the state after finding that two police officers who had been named in the girls' complaint were also present in court to instruct the prosecutor, whereas the probe officer had not come to the court.

"When (the officers') names are mentioned in the statements of the victims, they have no business to instruct the prosecutor," Justice Dere said, adding, "There are serious allegations against police officers who are carrying on with the investigations."
The high court directed Pune's police commissioner to depute a senior officer above the rank of DCP to be present on the next date of hearing (March 31). The bench told advocate general Rohit Deo to appear in the matter on behalf of the state and appointed senior advocate Mihir Desai amicus curiae (friend of the court). The case of a Delhi model's rape in Pune came to light when she was admitted to a hospital in Delhi with burn injuries in March 2016. She revealed that she had been lured to Pune by one Rohit Bhandari (the main accused in her case and also that of a Nepalese girl) through a social media website. She allegedly met him on the promise of acting offers, but when she refused to get intimate with him, she was burnt with cigarette butts and gangraped by him and others (all accused in the case).

At his Pune flat, she also met the other victim, who was brought from Nepal in 2014 on the promise of landing a job at a beauty parlour.The girl was sexually assaulted over two years and taken to various cities, including Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Bhopal, where she was raped by several men. The duo managed to flee to Delhi, where the model lived. On March 23, 2016, a zero FIR (compliant of crime committed outside jurisdiction of police station where it is filed) was lodged in Delhi. The case was then transferred to Vimantal police station in Pune. The police arrested Bhandari (35), Swikriti Kharel (26), Harish Shaha (25), Tapendra Sahi (23), and Ramesh Thakula (25).

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