In a major development, the Punjab police have lodged a case against 7 people, including a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader, for holding a 22-year-old girl in captivity and raping her for 8 months. As per reports, 3 police officials have also been suspended for threatening and intimidating the victim.
The victim’s brother informed that on June 24 last year, a female tenant staying in their house took his sister to the house of an Akali Dal leader’s brother. At that time, around 20-25 people were present at the house, including the SAD leader, a godman, and a few women. They had allegedly offered the victim a spiked drink, post which she lost consciousness. On the same day, she was gang-raped by the accused SAD leader, the godman, and several others.
The victim’s brother further said that his sister was kept in Pandhar village in Barnala for 17 days, following which she was taken to Sangrur for 3 days. She was then taken to Bhatinda and forcefully married off in exchange for ₹70000. When she was kept in captivity, the victim overheard a conversation by the accused wherein they were planning to sell her off for ₹3 lacs. The 22-year-old girl somehow managed to flee and contacted her mother. When her brother finally found her, she was in an intoxicated condition.
Victim’s family allege police intimidation
The family members then took her to a government hospital where she underwent a medical examination. The victim has also given her statement before the Magistrate. Fearing threats to their life, the family has demanded protection from the district administration. They alleged that the Station House Officer (SHO) at Barnala police station demanded money from them. The family members then requested to meet the Superintendent of Police but it was turned down. Meanwhile, the case was handed over to another SHO. They alleged that three police officials intimidated the victim to give a statement in favour of the accused.
Three police officials suspended, police investigation resumes
They have demanded stringent action against the 7 accused and the three police officials. DSP (Barnala) Lakhbir Singh Tiwana informed that a First Information Report (No. 340) was registered on July 10 last year. It was based on the complaint by the victim’s mother, who said that the victim was lured by her tenant. Tiwana emphasised that the accused woman was arrested and sent to jail. However, the victim, in her statement before the District magistrate, claimed that she wasn’t lured by anyone and had got married legally on her own accord. As such, the police probe came to a halt in the case.
On February 23 (Tuesday), the police received information that the victim was admitted at the Barnala government hospital. The Magistrate was called in and the victim’s statement was recorded. She has named several people for raping her and accused three police officials of intimidating her. The SP (Barnala) ordered the immediate suspension of the three police officials and directed the resumption of the police investigation. A case was thus registered against 7 people, who hail from different areas including Barnala, Bathinda, Panipat, and Ludhiana.