More than a year and a half after the Rajasthan Congress government led by CM Ashok Gehlot was slammed for the delay in police action in horrific the Alwar gang rape case, a special court in the state on Tuesday awarded life imprisonment to four accused in the case. The fifth accused was convicted under the IT Act and was sentenced to imprisonment for up to five years. Another accused, who is a minor, is being tried separately.
The incident took place on 26th April 2019, in which a Dalit woman was gang-raped by five men in front of her husband. The Rajasthan police came under scanner for delayed FIR. The court described it as Draupadi Cheerharan while announcing judgment.
Widespread criticism of Gehlot government
In the horrific incident which had transpired on April 26, 2019, a couple, shopping for a wedding in the family, was reportedly forcefully stopped by five youths and the woman was brutally gang-raped, beaten, videotaped and later blackmailed, near Thanagazi in Alwar under broad daylight.
The perpetrators assaulted the husband. Then they assaulted the wife and tried to rape her. When she protested, they started beating the husband again. In the end, she gave up to save her husband. They raped the victim alternatively for three hours and made 11 video clips.
The video clip of the Dalit victim was circulated by her attackers, triggering massive outrage and protests across the state. The police, which was informed of the rape on April 30 delayed filing the FIR until May 7, 2019.
The incident attracted nationwide outrage. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BSP Chief Mayawati had condemned the Ashok Gehlot government of Rajasthan. Gehlot became the Chief Minister of Rajasthan for the third time in December 2018. The incident brought his newly elected government under a lot of criticism.
Accused made videos of the victim
The accused had shot videos of the gang rape that went viral. The public outrage further increased after videos were made public over the internet. The accused beat the husband for three hours while making the videos. On 2nd May 2019, an FIR was registered in Thanagaji. 32 witnesses were produced in court in the case. The trial of the minor is underway in the District and Session court.
Action against the police officers
After a public uproar, the Ashok Gehlot government suspended the SP of Alwar and the SHO of Thanagaji. On 7th June 2019, FIR against SHO was registered for failing to do his duty under 166A(C). There were enough evidence and information in the case, but he did not register FIR on time. The SP did not visit the site even 24 hours after the incident.
The family members of the Alwar gang rape survivor have alleged that the police tried to suppress the case and hush up the matter due to the elections, which took place on April 29 and May 6. The victims’ kin had alleged that though they reported the crime to the Alwar police station on May 2, the cops hushed up the matter due to the polls in Rajasthan. The police had, however, cited the lack of staff due to poll duty, as the reason for delaying the investigation.
Notice from the National Human Rights Commission
The National Human Rights Commission also issued a notice to the Rajasthan government in the case. The Commission had sought a report from the Chief Secretary and the DGP on the police’s inaction. The commission also ordered the state government to submit a report on the entire episode within six weeks.
Accused tried under several sections
A Special SC-ST Court heard the case under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The case was registered against five accused Chhote Lal (22), Hans Lal Gurjar (20), Ashok Kumar Gurjar (20), Indraj Singh Gurjar (22) and a minor under Section-147 (rioting), 149 (unlawful mobilization) of IPC, 323 (intentionally injuring), 327 (extortion and harm), 341 (felony obstruction), 354B (disobeying a woman’s honor), 365 (secretly kidnapping), 376D (gangrape), 384 (extortion), 395 (robbery) and 506 (criminal intimidation). Sections of the SC-ST Act and IT Act were also imposed in the case.
“The court has sentenced four of the accused- Hansraj Gurjar, Chotelal Gurjar, Ashok Gurjar and Indraj Gurjar to life imprisonment till the end of their natural life while another accused, Mukesh, who played a part in circulating the video of the incident have been sentenced to five years of imprisonment after being convicted under the IT Act,” said Special Public Prosecutor Kuldip Jain on Tuesday.