The Chhattisgarh Police on Wednesday exhumed the body of a 17-year-old girl who died by suicide after seven men allegedly raped her at a wedding two months ago, reported PTI. The teenager’s body, which was buried by her family on the outskirts of their village in Kondagaon district in July, has been dug up for an autopsy, the police said.
The police have also arrested five of the seven accused. “Two accused are still missing,” said Bastar Inspector General P Sundarraj, according to NDTV. “A Special Investigation Team headed by Kondagaon Superintendent of Police Anand Sahu has been formed to look into the matter.”
This came a day after the girl’s father attempted suicide reportedly because the police did not investigate the matter. Officials, however, said the exact reason behind his suicide attempt was not known. The police also claimed that the rape was not reported to them and they came to know through local media reports on Wednesday.
The police have also claimed that the father’s suicide attempt has nothing to do with the case, adding that “he was not in the best of his mental health”. Kondagaon Superintendent of Police told The Times of India that his brother took care of the family.
The girl’s uncle said the police were informed and had even assured them of action. “A day after the rape, when she was alone at home with her siblings, she hung herself,” said the uncle. “We brought her down and tried arranging for an ambulance, but she died. Since her parents were not in the village, we did not cremate her but buried her in everyone’s presence. The police called us a few days later and said they are registering a first information report, but the accused continued to roam freely for months.”
Sundarraj said that the girl’s friend and a witness told them that two men dragged her to a forest where the accused raped her. She returned home next morning and died by suicide, he added. “Her body was exhumed from the grave on Wednesday for autopsy in presence of a police team and the tehsildar,” he said. “A case of gangrape has been registered.”
The government has formed a Special Investigation Team to investigate the incident, according to PTI. Meanwhile, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party condemned the incident and accused the ruling Congress of failing to ensure women’s safety.
“Daughters in Chhattisgarh are not safe right from Balrampur to Bastar,” Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik tweeted. “What kind of new Chhattisgarh is this government planning to create? This insensitive government does not have consoling words to speak on such horror happening with daughters of the state.”
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights Chairperson Yashwant Jain also wrote to the Kondagaon superintendent of police, asking for action against the local police inspector for not registering an FIR earlier, reported India Today. The panel has asked for a detailed inquiry report within 10 days.
The incident has come at a time when there has been nationwide outrage over the gangrape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman by four upper-caste Thakur men in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district. The police’s handling of the case has come under intense scrutiny. The sequence of events around the crime and the hasty cremation of the victim by authorities has also raised doubts about whether this was done to suppress medical evidence of sexual assault.