The police on Monday arrested 15 men, who had allegedly sexually assaulted two Adivasi women in Madhya Pradesh’s Alirajpur district, PTI reported. The incident took place on Friday during Bhagoriya, a festival celebrated by Adivasi communities in the state a week before Holi.
On Sunday, the police said they had taken suo motu cognisance of the matter after videos of the assault were shared on social media. While three men were arrested by Sunday noon, the remaining others were brought in on Sunday night.
Alirajpur Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Singh said that the women had not filed a complaint on their own. “On the basis of the video, we identified the men who sexually assaulted the woman,” Singh said, according to the Hindustan Times. “We have nabbed three of them while five others, who were shooting [the] video and instigating the accused, are absconding. Police teams are trying to nab them.”
In the video, a man can be seen sexually assaulting the women, before another person pushes him away. A few seconds later, another man grabs a woman and drags her towards a group of men, who then sexually assault her. Some other men can also be seen making videos of the incident.
The police have booked the arrested persons under Sections 354(a) (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 34(a) (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, Singh said.
Singh added that police officials have been deployed in the locality and they were raiding probable hideouts of the accused on the run, Singh added, reported The New Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the Congress said that Adivasi women were not safe in the state.
“According to NCRB [National Crime Records Bureau] data, highest number of rape cases with tribal women was registered in Madhya Pradesh and this incident highlighted the plight of tribal women,” Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja said. “The miscreants have no fear of police and that’s why they dared to assault the woman publicly.”
Jai Yuva Adiwasi Sangathan, an Adivasi rights organisation, has demanded action against the police for failing to maintain law and order situation during the festival.
“During the festival, police should have provided security to women,” the organisation’s Convenor Anand Rai said.