In a setback to Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar government, Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that rapes had indeed taken place during the Jat reservation protests in Murthal.
The court observed that two witnesses, one of them a taxi driver, had said that women were indeed dragged out of their vehicles, which indicated that rapes had taken place and also asked the CBI counsel if the agency was ready to probe the case.
Haryana government was accused of making concerted attempts to discredit the reports of gangrapes in Murthal.
Amicus curiae Anupam Gupta had last year told the High Court that the journalist, Tariq Anwar, who worked for Firspost website, had fabricated evidence in support of his report of gangrape during February Jat agitation. In its status report submitted before the division bench of Justice S S Saron and Justice Arun Palli, the SIT, headed by I-G Mamta Singh, too had sought to discredit Anwar.
The journalist was later fired by the website.
According to Times of India, police had accused five alleged rioters of rape, but the charge was dropped as their blood did not match semen samples from the undergarments.
On 20 February last year, vehicles with women passengers were stopped on the national highway near Murthal in the wee hours before the protesters dragged them out into the nearby fields and raped.
Undergarments of the rape victims were later found strewn in nearby fields and roads.
The police had dismissed the allegation describing it as ‘rumour’ but the various reports said that as many as 10 women were sexually assaulted.
Victims and their families were ‘reportedly advised by the district officials not to report the matter to anyone for the sake of their honour.’