Lucknow. Shockingly, the First Information Report in the case of the young girl who was forced into prostitution and whose finger was chopped off for refusing to cooperate, does not mention rape. Section 376, pertaining to rape, is not there in the FIR registered on 11 August at Police Station Aliganj. Neither was the case registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) even though the victim is 15-years-old.
It was only after reporters from Gaon Connection questioned the police regarding these anomalies that the sections for rape were added to the FIR.
But the details of the new FIR have not been disclosed. "The police at Aliganj Police Station has told us not to show the FIR to anyone, no matter how close to us," says the victim's sister. "They also told us that these kinds of cases go on for two-three months and even then nothing happens," she adds.
On 11 August, her sister who had been missing for two years had managed to escape from the house of Sudhir Gupta, his wife Anita Gupta and her daughter Shweta Gupta. Neha (name changed) had gone to the Gupta household in Lucknow's Triveni Nagar to seek work as a domestic help. But after working for a month when Neha went to the Guptas to ask for money, she was beaten and locked up. In a heart-rending interview with Gaon Connection, Neha revealed how she was forced to consume alcohol and repeatedly raped. "They made me drink alcohol and stuffed my mouth with cloth. Then they taped it. Every day three to four men would rape me," she said.
But there was worse in store when she refused to service the clients, Sudhir Gupta pinned her down and held her legs while Shweta, herself a mother of two toddlers, held her hands. Anita Gupta then chopped off a finger from her right hand and broke a finger on her left hand. They chopped her hair. They branded her with hot tongs and wounded her with sharp kitchen implements. "They said they would scar my face so badly that no one would be able to recognise me," says Neha, fearful that her family would never be able to recognise her should she ever get out.
After suffering for two years, she managed to escape on 9 August and reached her sister's house. When they went to the police, it took them two days to get the FIR registered. But the FIR registered on 11 August diluted the offences. "My sister's condition was terrible. She was terrified. Though her condition was so bad, the police kept asking her to repeat everything that had happened to her. It was only after she had told the same thing several times that the FIR was registered," says her sister.
This FIR, however, makes no mention of rape. According to the FIR, the complainant says that she worked in Sudhir Gupta's house in Triveni Nagar and when she asked him for her salary, he locked her up. He beat her up and asked her to sleep with clients (galat kaam karne ko kaha). She alleged that the Guptas were running a brothel in the house and girls would come there every day. She further said that when she refused, they chopped her hair, beat her up and threatened to kill her.
There is no mention of the fact that Neha herself was raped by three to four men every day. There is no mention of the brutal manner in which her finger was cut or of the innumerable wounds – some old and some fresh, oozing blood and pus. These wounds are visible to anyone who sees the girl.
The FIR registered on 11 August mentions only sections 342, 325, 323, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.
"These sections are all bailable offences – pertaining to wrongful confinement and assault. The police do not even need to arrest the accused in these sections. This is a common trend where the police dilute the case by not registering the FIR in the correct sections. The question the police has to answer is why were sections for rape and trafficking were not added? Also, why has the case not been registered under POCSO," questions Renu Mishra, Executive Director of legal aid body Association for Advocacy and Legal Aid (AALI). She further says that since the police did not file the case under POCSO, action can also be taken against the police officers under Sections 5 and 6 of POCSO.
The Aliganj Police Station in charge, Ajay Kumar, later told Gaon Connection when asked about the missing section for rape, "After investigations, we have added more sections. The victim was sent for medical examination and the report is awaited. Now we have added sections of 376, 377, 326, 164 and 120B."
Ajay Kumar further informed, "We write the FIR based on what the complainant's family writes and gives us. The IPC sections that are made out, we add those. This is what happened in this case as well. The complainant went to the CO and the application came from there."
He further said that according to the sections in the FIR, the accused can be sentenced to seven years imprisonment if convicted. When Gaon Connection said that since the girl was a minor, and the case should be filed under POCSO wherein the punishment can be life or even death, he said, "People get away even in murder cases, this is only a rape case."
Till three days after the FIR was registered, Sudhir Gupta was not arrested. He and his family kept threatening Neha and her family. "They would call me up and say that what I am doing is not right and that I would have to pay a heavy price for making them my enemies. You will be stuck between police station and court but nothing will happen to us, they said to me," says Neha's sister. The Gupta's were finally arrested on 14 August. "When we went to the police station to give our statement, Anita Gupta and Shweta Gupta were laughing. They threatened me even in the police station," says Neha's sister.
Talking to Gaon Connection, her only plea was, "They should be given a punishment commensurate to what they made my sister endure for two years. They should never be able to come out of jail. They will kill my family."