NAGPUR, jan 21 (Times of India) : Not finding anything to lay their hands on, a gang of about six armed dacoits, gang-raped an 18-year-old girl in Sasegaon village of Kuhi tehsil, about 35km from Nagpur on Friday night. After the dacoits left, the girl ran naked about 500 meters to her nearest neighbour who alerted the villagers and the police.
Like Nirbhaya, this girl too is determined to see the perpetrators of the crime punished and is helping the police identify the rapists by going through photos of criminals. After being given medical aid, the girl has returned home. At another house they struck earlier in the night, the dacoits tried to rape a mother of three, but spared her after the family pleaded.
Sasegaon is part of a hamlet with few families living at least 500 metres away from each other. Even the police station is 13km away and nearest rural hospital is 18km from the village. The gang had struck at five other families in the nearby Nawargaon, Teetur, Dhanoli and Deepala villages over two hours before moving to Sasegaon.
The gang, armed with sticks and axes, barged into a secluded home in Sasegaon. The victim, a tenth standard student, was studying in candlelight as there was no electricity due to load-shedding. The accused mercilessly beat the family and asked for money. On finding nothing, they locked the family members in one of the rooms.
Police sources said that it was girl's determined resistance which angered the dacoits and make them turn their attention towards her. The girl tried to resist the dacoits when they dragged her out of the house. "She was pinned down by most of them but only two could succeed to overpower and rape her. She staved-off the attempts of others to violate her," said a cop.
Superintendent of police, Nagpur rural, Manoj Sharma praised the girl's courage stating that despite being in mental agony the victim put up a brave fight. "She stayed with the police to help in the investigations and nab the culprits despite our insistence that she returns home," said Sharma.
The victim's brother Sanjay (name changed) said, "They lifted my sister and went towards the back of the house while rest of the family was locked up in a room." He told TOI that their family was looking after the property of Bhanudas Borkar for the last two years.
Sanjay added that his father, who received several injuries, was having dinner when some noise drew him out. "The dacoits were armed with sticks and axes. They mercilessly thrashed him and smashed his torch," Sanjay said and added that the dacoits also thrashed his mother before snatching her gold ornaments.
Laxman Dhurve, the victim's neighbour said, he was stunned to see the scared girl. "We provided her clothes before alerting the villagers, who later informed the police," he said.
An injured Tumbhaji Khobragade said the dacoits barged into his house and demanded money. "The dacoits wanted the cash I had kept aside for my daughter's marriage. They sprayed chilli powder on our food when we denied having any valuables to part with," said Khobragade. The dacoits later left with his wife's gold chain worth around Rs15,000.
Police sources told TOI that the dacoits first struck at Chacharkar family. The dacoits, apart from snatching Rs200 cash, also assaulted Devrao and his wife.
A villager said that the dacoits were wearing jeans and jackets.
At Deepala village, around a kilometre away from these spots, the dacoits barged into the residence of Shende family where they robbed Pantiram and his wife of a gold earring worth Rs17,000. Later the miscreants robbed Sham Puri, another villager.
Cops from Kuhi police station, accompanied by senior cops, reached the spot within an hour of being informed. The injured, including the rape victim, were shifted to Kuhi rural hospital. The local crime branch is also investigating the matter.
Sharma said that police have already got strong clues which are being worked upon. "We are hopeful of a quick breakthrough," he said.
It has been reliably learnt that police have already rounded up a prime suspect. The involvement of members of the notorious Pardhi community is not being ruled out.
BJP MLA Sudhir Parwe, who was at the spot, said %that police should have reacted promptly.