Fatehpur: It was a merry night for two cousin sisters, aged 14 and 17, in Fatehpur district of Uttar Pradesh, as they returned from an annual fair Saturday night with two other cousins, a boy aged 13 and another girl aged 12.
But the situation soon spiralled out of control. A group of men — the girls say there were 7 — allegedly stalked the cousins before attacking them.
According to the girls’ family, the cousins aged 14 and 17 were then pulled into an adjacent plot of land and gang-raped. The 12-year-old was beaten up too, they added, but not raped.
On this ghastly night, however, this wouldn’t be the only crime the men would be accused of. It is believed that, just about 90 minutes later, the men attacked a group of 6 other youngsters, including 4 girls.
As the attackers allegedly attempted to pull some of the girls into a nearby field, the youngsters fought for their lives and somehow managed to escape.
All this happened this past weekend, along an unlit kutcha road that connects multiple villages in the area.
The teen cousins who were allegedly gang-raped live in Sihar village, and were on their way back home from the ‘Shobhan Sarkaar ka mela’ — an annual affair held in the Senpur village, around 8 km away.
The second group lives in the Chaklen Ka Purwa village, located around 5 km from Senpur.
Six men have been arrested for the crimes, Fatehpur Superintendent of Police (SP) Rajesh Kumar Singh said.
They have been identified as Prabhat Yadav, Rajan Yadav, Dileep Yadav, Pradeep Yadav, Vikas Yadav and Shailendra Yadav, all believed to be aged between 18 and 25 years.
They have been booked under IPC sections 376 d (gang rape), 342 (wrongful confinement), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), and 506 (criminal intimidation), as well as under the POCSO Act.
The possible involvement of a seventh person is still being investigated.
Rajendra Singh, the station house officer (SHO) for the Husainganj police station, under whose jurisdiction the villages fall, confirmed that the same six people were involved in both crimes.
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What happened that night
Movement of villagers through the night is a daily affair along the aforementioned road. A constant stream of villagers travels by on bicycles or on foot.
According to the family of the cousins who were allegedly gang-raped, the two had visited the fair Saturday along with three other cousins.
They were accompanied to the fair by their eldest brother — aged in his mid-20s — but he is said to have returned home earlier for dinner.
“My daughter had gone to the fair accompanied by her cousins and younger sister (12),” said the mother of the 17-year-old.
“Their eldest cousin wanted to come home for dinner and he told the girls about it. When the rest of them were returning, 7 youths started following them and attacked them (near Ferozepur Katri village), pulling the girls into an adjacent land full of bushes,” she added.
One of the minor survivors told ThePrint that they had sought help from a young man along the path, and used his phone to call up their brother.
This man is believed to be the seventh suspect.
“He gave me the phone and I called up my brother and the four of us started walking towards our village. After some time, we noticed that they (the man with the phone and 6 others), too, had started following us,” she said.
“They continued to follow us for a few minutes and then started attacking us. They started pulling me and my sisters towards the bushes in an adjacent land. As I tried to shout and cry for help, they used a handkerchief to silence me. All 3 of us were held by them,” she said.
When her younger sister tried to escape, she added, they beat her up. However, she said, they did not sexually assault her. The 13-year-old boy was beaten up too, she added.
The assailants then took turns to rape the two cousins aged 17 and 14, she added.
The girls, in a dishevelled condition, were found at the spot by their eldest cousin when he arrived at the spot sometime later. While he raised the alarm, the youths had escaped by then, the survivor said.
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90 minutes later…
The assailants then allegedly targeted a second group around 1.30 am Sunday.
They allegedly snatched the mobile phone of the eldest member of the group — a woman aged 22 — before attempting to pull the girls towards a field.
Speaking to ThePrint, the 22-year-old woman said the group had been walking towards their village when they noticed that a group of 7 youths was following them.
“We had gone to attend the fair Saturday evening. When we were walking towards our village, we realised that a group of persons was following us,” she said.
“It seemed to us that they had started following us from the beginning of our walk. When we were about 1.5 km from our village, they suddenly started attacking us,” she added. “One of them snatched my mobile phone and tried to pull me and the others into a nearby field.”
The women, however, found a lifeline in some bamboo sticks they spotted in a nearby field. Had they not picked up the sticks, the woman said, they would not have survived.
“They started pulling us towards the field. We picked up the bamboo sticks and confronted them. As they beat us, we tried to fight them,” she added.
“When we resisted them and asked them if they didn’t have sisters at home, they asked us not to raise the alarm. They continued to slap us but, luckily, we raised the alarm and the villagers heard us,” she said, adding that the assailants then fled the spot.
“Had we not fought them off, I might not have been here today,” the woman said. “We managed to survive because we resisted them and attacked them too. A girl aged 12 and her younger brother, aged 11, who were accompanying us, were beaten up badly,” she added.
The fact that the assailants were the same was confirmed when she arrived at the police station to identify the suspects, the woman said.
The gang-rape survivors, she added, were also at the police station and identified the same men.
SHO Rajendra Singh said they are searching for the seventh accused and his alleged role in the cases is being verified.
(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)
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