Cracking the whip after a 19-year-old woman, daughter of a police couple, was allegedly gang-raped three days ago but officers at three police stations failed to lodge an FIR over a jurisdiction dispute, the Madhya Pradesh police on Friday suspended five of its officials.
The authorities also transferred a city superintendent of police.
“Following an initial inquiry, we have suspended the in-charge officers of three police stations (MP Nagar, Habibganj local and Habibgang GRP) and two sub-inspectors and transferred a CSP for negligence in registering the case,” Inspector General (Law and Order) Makrand Deoskar said.
“A special investigation team has been set up to probe the crime. Deputy Inspector General Sudhir Laad will head it,” he added.
GRP Bhopal police station in-charge Hemant Shrivastava would be a member of the SIT, which would also have women officers and forensic experts, Deoskar said.
The suspended officials were GRP (Habibganj) police station in-charge Mohit Saxena, MP Nagar station in-charge Sanjay Singh Bais and Habibganj (city) police station in-charge Ravindra Yadav, he added.
“These officials should have registered the FIR when the victim went to their police stations, but they failed to do so,” the IG said.
Sub-inspectors R N Tekam (MP Nagar) and Bhawani Prasad Uikey (GRP Habibganj) were also suspended and CSP (MP Nagar zone) Kulvant Singh was transferred to the police headquarters, he added.
The action came after media reports, which were later verified by the authorities, pointed out that it took nearly 24 hours for the woman, a college student, to get her complaint registered as three police stations refused to lodge the FIR, saying the crime had taken place outside their jurisdiction, a senior police official said.
The woman was allegedly raped by four men near the railway tracks when she was returning home after attending a coaching class on Tuesday night.
A case was finally registered on Wednesday evening at the GRP police station (at the Habibganj railway station), under the jurisdiction of which the crime had occurred.
The Government Railway Police had earlier said all the four accused in the case had been arrested, but the IG clarified that the police had detained four men, three of whom were eventually arrested, while the other man was not found to be involved in the incident and was allowed to go.
Another accused, identified as Raju, was absconding, he said.
The accused were booked under IPC sections 376D (gang-rape), 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery), a GRP police station official said.
“The four accused forcibly stopped the woman when she was walking home from MP Nagar after attending a coaching class. They took her to a culvert near the railway line and raped her under the culvert before fleeing,” he added.
After the incident, the woman went to the GRP police station and also informed her parents of her ordeal.
IG Deoskar admitted that one of the accused was caught by the woman’s family members, who brought him to the police station. The police nabbed two other accused on the basis of the information provided by the man during questioning.
Earlier in the morning, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan spoke with senior police officials and directed them to take strict action in the matter.
State Director General of Police R K Shukla said the SIT had been set up to speed up the investigation, so that the culprits could be brought to book at the earliest.
The Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state came under fire from the Opposition over the incident as well as the delay on the part of the police in filing the case.
Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Ajay Singh hit out at Chouhan in a tweet over the latter’s claims on women empowerment and safety in the state.
The woman, daughter of two police personnel, had to go from one police station to another for registering her FIR, the Congress leader pointed out.
“Our chief minister says that Madhya Pradesh is ahead of America in women’s empowerment. This lie is exposed in state capital itself (sic),” Singh wrote on Twitter.
Congress workers staged a protest outside the GRP police station, demanding the sacking of the station in-charge.
“The chief minister says rapists will be hanged. Do it now. Even the family members of police personnel are not safe in Madhya Pradesh. Moreover, the victim had to run from pillar to post for 24 hours to get her FIR registered,” district Congress chief P C Sharma said.
“If this can happen to a daughter of a police couple, one can imagine the plight of the ordinary citizens in the state,” he added.