The medical report of 17-year old Sheelu, who was allegedly gang-raped by a ruling Bahujan Samaj Party MLA and his cohorts in Banda district of Uttar Pradesh, was stated to be "inconclusive" on Monday.
Interestingly, while confirming that the report contained "nothing substantive," Banda chief medical officer Dr M P Singh parried querries on the issue. He told rediff.com over telephone from Banda, "Actually, I did not see the report as it was sent directly to the police." However, inquiries revealed that the report was duly signed by him.
A local activist alleged that most officials -- police as well as doctors -- were taking diktats from the all powerful MLA. "If the cops refused to take cognizance of the complaint initially made by the victim's father Achche Lal, members of the special medical panel were apparently scared of stating the truth in the medical report," observed Sampath Rai, an activist working for the Gulabi Gang, an influential women's body widely known in the region.
Experts were clearly of the view that any long time gap between rape and collection of vaginal swab was unlikely to reveal anything. Well known jurist Prof Balraj Chauhan, vice chancellor of Ram Manohar Lohia University, said, "Medico-legal examination of a rape victims must be done as soon as possible, because there was every chance of washing away of the secretions on account of urination or bathing."
"That was the reason why members of the medical panel chose to leave enough ambiguity in their report," he added. No wonder, even her estimated age in the medical report was shown as "above 15".
The complicity of the local policemen was also visible in their effort to declare the victim as a "major". As per the police records, Sheelu was 22 years old, when her father confirms her to be only 17.
Madhu Garg, a well known activist on women's issues, was of the view that Sheelu was "unlikely to be more than 16-17, as it was quite common for rural girls to be married off by the age."
Significantly, the first sample for Sheelu's medical examination was taken as late as on December 20, exactly 11 days after she had remained under the MLA's illegal confinement, while the panel for medical examination was appointed only after 22 days on December 31.
The local police took cognizance of the complaint made by the victim's father Achche Lal only after the issue was raised by powerful political leaders like UP Congress president Rita Bahuguna Joshi and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav as late as on December 29.
Loud criticism by opposition leaders drew the attention of Chief Minister Mayawati who eventually ordered a CID probe followed by suspension of the MLA on January 2.