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Naliya gang-rape case: Panel gives clean chit to probe authorities as victim turned hostile, no evidence of rape and sex-racket

The woman turned hostile when the case was being heard by a trial court, and also didn't appear before the inquiry commission.

The inquiry commission constituted to look into the Naliya rape case has submitted its report to the government saying that there is no conclusive evidence that the woman was raped by the accused and that they ran a sex racket involving other victims. Though the commission headed by retired high court Justice A L Dave submitted its final report in 2018, the report was tabled in the Gujarat assembly on Friday.

The commission report says that the victim didn’t depose before the commission. It is also noteworthy to mention that the victim, who had accused of being gang-raped several times even turned hostile in the court during the trial of the case. The case concerns a native Kutch woman who had levelled grave allegations of blackmail and gang-rapes for over a year against eight people including four local BJP workers. She had also accused them of running a sex racket in Bhuj.

The panel in its report said that the claim of rape and blackmail were ‘uncertain’. Moreover, it said: “The victim and her husband both didn’t appear before the commission. The evidence presented by the probing officer shows that the victim had been unforthcoming to the prosecution during the trial and was declared hostile”.

Thus, with the evidence not conclusively proving that the alleged incidents occurred or not, the commission gave a clean chit to the authorities of having committed any slips into the investigation. To shore up its conclusion, the commission put it on record that the complainant woman didn’t depose before it and it turned hostile before the trial court in the case.

A woman, a resident of Mumbai, had lodged a complaint at Naliya police station on 25 January 2017, claiming that she was frequently gang-raped and threatened by 8 men, including local BJP workers, during the last one year. Following her complaint, an SIT was instituted which arrested Vinod Thakkar, 67, his son Chetan Thakkar, 35, and Ashwin Thakkar, 44, before producing them in a Naliya court, which had ordered them to 15-days police remand.

After having a spat with her husband, the woman who lived with her in-laws in Mumbai’s Nalasopara suburb returned to her hometown in Kothara village of Naliya in Gujarat in 2015. She was reportedly looking for a job and asked help from one Bababhai, a mobile shop owner in Naliya town. Bababhai not only promised her of helping her but also said he would get her a job in two days time. Bababhai soon introduced her to Shantilal Solanki, the vendor of an LPG gas agency and the convenor of the OBC cell of BJP unit for Abdasa taluka of Kutch district, who offered her a job at Rs 5,500 per month.

According to the FIR filed by the complainant, when she had asked for an advance salary as Diwali 2015 was approaching, Solanki asked her to collect it from his house where she was offered a spiked cold drink and was subsequently raped by three persons, purportedly including Solanki. The woman had alleged that was the first of several occasions where she was allegedly raped in moving cars, hotels and houses of other accused. She also accused the trio of filming the act and blackmailing her of circulating the video. Besides, she had also mentioned in her FIR that the accused ran a sex racket involving other victims.

But later she turned hostile when the case was being heard by a trial court, and also didn’t appear before the inquiry commission.

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