The Punjab and Haryana High Court (HC) on Thursday observed that the statements by the two witnesses that have been read out in the court and the women’s undergarments that have been recovered made it evident that mass rape had taken place at Murthal, Haryana, during the Jat quota protests of February 2016.
Several newspaper reports had surfaced last year on women being dragged out of cars and raped during the Jat quota protests.
The Haryana police had denied the reports in February and said that no credible eyewitness had backed the claims.
The court criticised the special investigation team (SIT) constituted by the Haryana Government to probe the agitation. The SIT was also asked to investigate the alleged rapes and to redouble its efforts to identify the victims and perpetrators to instill confidence In public.
After amicus curiae Anupam Gupta read statements of the witnesses, the bench made the decision. It was decided that various pieces of evidence – such as semen-splattered clothes found at the scene – disproved the SIT’s claim that no gang rape occurred on that day.
The police had earlier accused five men of rioting and rape, but later their charges were dropped. The HC has now asked the police to file an affidavit before the trial court and confirm in writing before a trial court that rape charges haven’t been dropped.
Gupta found loopholes in the SIT’s investigation and said it is an “attempt to sanitise” the investigation. He also claimed that the SIT head, IGP Mamta Singh, had committed “professional impropriety”.
What happened in Murthal?
Murthal in Haryana is a favourite pit stop for travellers from Delhi. On February 22, 2016, when the Jat agitation was gathering momentum, a mob had stopped several cars and pulled out at least 10 women. The mob, in frenzy, had raped the women in the nearby fields.
The evidence for the same was found after pictures of women’s underwear scattered near the highway emerged. The police had claimed that they had been looted from a shop.
Over 30 people were killed and more than 300 injured during the Jat quota agitation in which mobs burnt buildings, blocked highways, and damaged cars in Haryana.