Punjab, Haryana HC ask to find Murthal rape culprits
Taking into consideration the statements of few witnesses and the recovery of women's undergarments, the Punjab and Haryana High Court observed that the rapes had taken place at Murthal in February. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was asked to take over the case. The case is set to come up for hearing on 28th February, 2017.
In the backdrop of the violent Jat protests that shook Haryana, reports claimed that vehicles with women riders were allegedly halted on the national highway near Murthal and the womenfolk were dragged out into the nearby fields and abused. Though the police called the reports 'rumours', eyewitnesses claimed that at least 10 women were sexually violated. Moreover, the families were asked to keep silent.
Taking suo-motu cognizance of the media report that many women were allegedly raped at a highway in Murthal during the Jat stir, the Punjab and Haryana High Court asked the Haryana DGP and Home Secretary to relinquish separate comprehensive reports on this incident. The court said that if the reports were true, the assailants could not be left scot-free.
The state government described the media reports as "totally false, misleading and not based on facts."
The Haryana government formed a three-member committee commanded by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Dr Rajshree Singh and two women deputy superintendents of police to investigate the alleged gang-rapes near Murthal. The committee was formed after women's clothing was found in various spots near Murthal. The clothes were sent for further forensic tests to ascertain the gang-rape claims.
3 truck drivers came forward claiming that they had witnessed "women being dragged and molested by Jat agitators in Murthal". However, the team of women police officers who visited the site of alleged gang-rapes said that "no eyewitness or victim had turned up before it." The truckers asserted that "policemen in plain clothes" were putting pressure on them asking them to remain silent.
6 days after the news of Murthal gang-rapes started doing rounds, a woman came forward and lodged an FIR. The woman told the Haryana Police that she had been pulled out of the car and raped on 22nd February night. The woman also named her brother-in-law as one of the 9 rapists. The police are looking at the angle of family dispute too.
In the status report it submitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Haryana police remained steadfast in denying the assertions of gangrape by the Jat demonstrators in Murthal in Sonepat district. Meanwhile, Congress rebuffed the report filed by the Haryana Police. Kumari Selja from Congress demanded that President's rule be imposed in the state as the state lacked 'law and order'.
Haryana Police added gang rape charges to the Murthal FIR after 3 women declared that they had been raped in Murthal near Delhi during the height of Jat riots in February. Of these 3, 2 women sent anonymous letters with details of rapes and a third sent an audio recording. The police for the first time were forced to admit that women were raped.
The initial findings of the SIT probing the rape allegations during the Jat agitation in Murthal said they have found no evidence; investigators said that so far, it appeared that most of the stories were fabricated. They said they did uncover cases of molestation, theft and arson. They clarified that despite efforts they found no victims who came forward with complaints.