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3-min read

Shimla Gang-Rape Case: After Police’s No Kidnapping Claim, Witness Says Saw Woman in ‘Semi-Nude State’

The eyewitness claimed the 19-year-old was in a semi-nude condition and was begging for help when he came across her near the Hill Grove on the Dhalli-Bhattakufar road, the place from where she was alleged abducted.

Ramlal Kondal | News18

Updated:May 3, 2019, 11:57 AM IST
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Shimla Gang-Rape Case: After Police’s No Kidnapping Claim, Witness Says Saw Woman in ‘Semi-Nude State’
Image for representation. (Photo: Reuters)
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Shimla/Chandigarh: In a new twist to the alleged gang-rape of a woman in a moving car in Shimla on Sunday night, April 28, an eyewitness has claimed that he had bumped into the victim around 9:45 pm.

The eyewitness, who has requested anonymity, had given his statement to the police the next day. He claimed the 19-year-old was in a semi-nude condition and was begging for help when he came across her near the Hill Grove on the Dhalli-Bhattakufar road, the place from where the woman was alleged abducted.

“She had come running from somewhere and was extremely terrified,” he told News18, adding, “She was talking to somebody on the phone.” The man claimed that the victim even tried to barge into his car, scaring him a bit, following which he tried to console her.

“I assured her that I will call the police. I also offered to call my wife to the spot in case the police arrives late,” he said. The eyewitness claimed that in the meantime, two youths arrived on a bike and took the woman with them towards Malyana area.

The revelations have raised questions about the findings of the police, who claimed in a press note on Wednesday that the investigation carried out so far doesn’t suggest the woman was abducted.

The police said CCTV footage available on the 1.5 km-long stretch between Dhalli Tunnel and Bhattakufar showed that the woman was walking “leisurely” and there was no sign of a car.

The 19-year-old, in her complaint, had said that she was abducted and raped in a moving car by three men. Based on the complaint, an FIR was filed Monday under Sections 354 A (sexual harassment), 376 (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 366 (kidnapping) of the Indian Penal Code.

But on Tuesday, she retracted her statement against the unidentified assailants, a police officer has said. Her statement was recorded before the judicial magistrate on Tuesday, where she backtracked on charges of kidnapping and rape, the officer said.

This comes as the case has assumed political overtones, with the opposition Congress alleging that the BJP is trying to hush up the case and pressuring the woman.

The eight-member Special Investigation Team probing the case has said that they would take the case to its “logical conclusion”.

The woman had earlier alleged that she was abducted near Shiv Mandir. The CCTV footage from Shiv Mandir to Hill Grove Public School shows that the woman was walking alone, the police said.

In her complaint, she had said she was walking back home after she was turned away by the police when she went to file a stalking complaint. After she was thrown out of the car, she said she first called a friend at 9:23 pm and had made a subsequent call on the Gudia Helpline at 9:56 pm. The call details have confirmed this.

Sources told News 18 off the record that the medical report of the victim has confirmed rape. However, there has been no official confirmation of it so far. No arrests have been made so far.

The Congress has claimed that the victim was not provided help despite her going to a police station before the crime.

A magisterial inquiry into her visit at the police station was ordered by chief minister Jairam Thakur on Tuesday and ADM (Law and Order) Prabha Rajeev was asked to submit the report within 24 hours. Even as the prescribed time has passed by, the contents of the report haven’t been made public.

Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Kuldeep Singh Rathore said that the woman changed her statement under pressure. He also alleged that the woman's parents in Haryana were being pressured by the ruling BJP government. Rathore demanded an inquiry into the matter by a sitting judge of the high court.

Rathore had on Tuesday led a Congress delegation to the Raj Bhawan and submitted a memorandum to the President of India via the Governor, seeking dismissal of the Jairam government for “deteriorating law and orders situation in the state”.

Responding to the allegations, Jairam Thakur accused the Opposition of politicising the case. He said, “I would simply like to state that since it is election time, they (Opposition) are trying to give political colours to the case. We are taking the case very seriously and sensitively. We will ensure that the guilty are brought to the book.”

The press release issued by the Shimla Police on Wednesday also cautioned the media against “certain rumours” circulating on the social media, and advised it to “take the official version” before “forming an opinion.”
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