Patna: Police in Bihar’s Nawada district have registered a case against a man accused of raping a five-year-old girl. The case, said a local cop, was filed after the police stumbled upon a video showing the man doing sit-ups to atone for the crime of which he stands accused.
The fourteen-second video doing rounds on social media shows the man, his face and torso covered with a shawl, doing five sit-ups with a crowd in attendance — the punishment deemed fit for him by a local panchayat.
Nawada Superintendent of Police (SP) Gaurav Mangla told ThePrint Friday, “We have lodged a case against the accused Arun Pandit under Prevention of Children from Sexual Offense (POSCO) and raids are being conducted to arrest him.”
The accused owns a poultry farm in Kannauj village, which falls under the Akbarpur police station in Bihar’s Nawada. He allegedly lured the minor to his farm on the pretext of giving her sweets and raped her, said the family.
According to a local police officer who did not wish to be named, the girl narrated her ordeal to her uncle upon her return home. Family members wanted to lodge an FIR (first information report), said the officer.
The officer went on to add that before the family could file a police complaint, the accused approached a former mukhiya (village head) of the Kannauj village panchayat, asking for help.
A meeting of the panchayat was then called, allegedly at the insistence of the former mukhiya, where the accused was told to do five sit-ups as punishment for the alleged crime and let off. Members of the panchayat also persuaded the girl’s kin not to approach the police by saying that it would bring ill repute to the family, the local police officer told ThePrint.
Both the girl and the accused identify as economically backward classes (EBCs). The minor hails from the Barhi caste, while the accused is a Kumhar.
The officer added that the police are yet to receive a formal complaint from the girl’s family and the FIR, in this case, was lodged unilaterally by the police upon taking cognizance of the video of the accused doing sit-ups. “We will take action against panchayat members if their names crop up during the investigation,” said the officer.
Bihar witnessed a 16.8 per cent surge in cases of crime against women registered across the state in 2021 (17,950), compared to 15,359 in 2020. However, this included 786 cases of rape — down from 806 the previous year. This figure stood at 1,075 in August this year.