[dropcap]K[/dropcap]OLKATA – A 14-year-old girl from Dum Dum was gang-raped by two Army jawans in a military reserved coach on the Howrah-Amritsar Express on Sunday evening.
The girl was rescued from the bogie in a joint effort by RPF and GRP personnel at Madhupur station in Jharkhand around 8pm. She identified the duo in a video footage of the coach taken at 11.15pm but when cops boarded the train at Sultanpur around noon on Monday to arrest them, they were nowhere to be found.
Another jawan, identified as Manjrish Tripathi, has been arrested as a suspected accomplice of the accused. The survivor has said that Tripathi did not rape her but forced her to drink liquor after which the other two raped her.
The girl had run away from home on Sunday. Her family informed police who alerted the railways.
The officials at Howrah station pulled off a near miracle they identified the girl out of tens of thousands of faces captured on CCTV. She was spotted boarding the military coach of Amritsar Express that had left Howrah at 1.50pm.
By then the train had already crossed into Jharkhand. The DGP’s Ranchi office was alerted and around 6 pm, GRP officials at Jasidih were faxed the girl’s photograph and ordered to rescue her. Permission was sought from the railways to detain it for seven minutes at Madhupur where GRP and RPF personnel started a coach-by-coach search around 8pm.
“The military coach was locked from inside and after a bit of a ‘struggle’, the RPF and GRP men were able to gain access. The girl was found inside. She wasn’t fully conscious and was being fed by Tripathi. Women constables helped the girl to the GRP station and Tripathi was taken into custody. During questioning, the girl said she was forced to drink alcohol by three jawans and then raped by two of them,” an RPF officer from Asansol division said.
The authorities found out the train’s location and immediately ordered videography of the military coach. When the train reached Kiul, around 11.15pm, RPF men videographed the Army personnel travelling in that bogie and sent back the footage to Madhupur. Meanwhile, a medical examination had confirmed rape.
The video clip was shown to the girl and she identified the two rapists. However, it was not until the train reached Sultanpur (Uttar Pradesh) around noon on Monday that there was an attempt to arrest the accused. They were not found. There are 22 stoppages of the train between Kiul and Sultanpur.
“Prima facie, it seems the allegations are correct. We have identified the two accused and interrogation of the arrested person is likely to provide further leads. It seems that the crime occurred soon after the train left Howrah,” said Asim Vikrant Minj, Dhanbad superintendent of railway police.
The Army has been asked to provide details of the personnel travelling by Amritsar Express, officials say. They feel it shouldn’t be too difficult to identify the accused as jawans travel with warrants issued by the Army and the Movement Control Offices at important stations like Howrah keep a list of travelling personnel.