The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday said there was enough evidence to indicate that sexual assaults did take place in Murthal during last year’s Jat protests, The Indian Express reported. A bench of the court said the statements of two witnesses proved that the assaults had taken place. The court ordered the government-constituted Special Investigation Team to investigate the case thoroughly and identify the assailants.
The court wants the SIT to file an affidavit saying the First Information Report still contains sections relating to gangrape and kidnapping. The amicus curiae in the case, Anupam Gupta, said the charges of gangrape and kidnapping were deliberately removed from the FIR.
Gupta also accused the SIT of trying to drop the charges of rape registered in the case, The Times of India reported. He alleged that the SIT had acted in an unprofessional manner and asked the court to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. In May 2016, Gupta had expressed his reservations against the SIT’s investigation. He said Amrik Singh, a dhaba owner in Murthal who had initially spoken up about the crimes, had changed his statement and had gone completely silent.
While the Haryana Police had accused five demonstrators of raping women during the protests at Murthal, the charges were later dropped as their blood did not match semen samples found on undergarments recovered from the site of the assaults. The state police had first denied that any sexual assault had taken place during the agitations, in which the Jats were demanding reservation in government jobs.