A five-year-old girl was raped, battered, had a plastic bottle and candles shoved into her vagina and was left to die in a locked room in east Delhi by her 25-year-old neighbour before she was discovered two days later, lying in a pool of her own blood.
When her father went to the police for help, they gave him Rs. 2,000 to hush up the matter.
And when protesters gathered outside the hospital the girl was taken to, a senior police officer thought nothing of slapping a woman demonstrator.
Clearly, nothing has changed in rape capital Delhi, despite the public outrage and government assurances that followed the December 16 gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a moving bus and her subsequent death.
The little girl was playing near her rented house in Dilshad Garden last Sunday evening when she was abducted by Manoj, a tailor who doubles up as a labourer. For the next 72 hours, she was raped and brutalised over and over again in a room right below her own house, as her family searched desperately for her.
She was rescued from her dark prison on Wednesday, after her parents heard her feeble cries and called the police.
She was found starving, bloodied, bound and gagged, with bite marks and bruises on her face and body. At the Swami Dayanand Hospital where she was taken, her frail body underwent surgery the next day for removal of the foreign objects her tormentor had forced inside her.
She is now stable and has been shifted to AIIMS.
Doctors called it one of the worst cases of sexual assault they had witnessed, let alone attempted to treat
This time too, the police response was shockingly insensitive.
“When we approached them with a complaint on Monday, they told us to go away. ‘Look for her around the neighbourhood’, they said and refused to register a kidnapping case,” the victim’s uncle said.
“On Wednesday, after the child was recovered from a locked room below my brother’s house, they gave him R2,000 and told him not to make a fuss, get her treated and thank God she was alive,” he added.
On Friday, Khajuri Khas ACP BS Ahlawat was caught on camera slapping a woman protester outside Swami Dayanand Hospital. He has been suspended, Delhi police commissioner Neeraj Kumar said. The Gandhi Nagar SHO and investigating officer have also been suspended.
“The family’s statements are being investigated. A departmental enquiry has been ordered,” Kumar said, adding: “The accused is not a stranger and the crime did not take place in a public space. Such crimes fall in the non-preventable category.”
A case has been registered against Manoj and police teams have been sent to his native village in Bihar’s Muzzafarpur.