26, Feb 2016
Feb 26 2016 : The Times of India (Mumbai)
Joel Joseph & Shubhra Pant
A day after it took suo motu cognizance of a newspaper report that said 10 women were allegedly raped by rioters in Sonipat, the Punjab and Haryana HC on Thursday said instead of going to police, victims of the alleged sexual assault could file complaints directly with chief judicial magistrates. Police and the state government continue to maintain that no sexual assault took place at So nipat during the Jat agitation.
A TOI team that visited the place found pieces of women’s clothing lying strewn around a grassy patch adjacent to NH-1. Among them was a pair of blue denims that lo oked new, a pair of torn black slacks and innerwear. TOI has these pictures but isn’t publishing them because they are yet to be forensically analyzed. This area is next to the Sonipat-Delhi carriageway . The nearest habitation is Hassanpur village, around 500 metres away .
A dhaba owner said there were women desperately seeking help in the early morning of February 22. “It was around 3am when I got frantic calls from my workers who told me women were crying so loud for help they could hear them from inside. I asked them to stay inside. One of the girls ran naked across the road and hid in neck deep water, the workers told me.“ The dhabas were shut that night following violence earlier in the day, but the workers were inside. However, with police denying any such atrocity and no complaint lodged yet, he said no one was willing to testify. “Even if just one woman comes forward, we will give investigators our statements,“ the dhaba owner added.
CRPF personnel stationed in Murthal also said women had been sexually assaulted by the rioters. “It was around 3am when we had moved away from Hassanpur towards Delhi that a mob torched vehicles and misbehaved with women,“ said a CRPF jawan. His colleagues said they could do nothing since they hadn’t received any order from their seniors.
(With inputs from the Chandigarh bureau)