Haryana sets up panel to probe Murthal mass gang rapes

Chandigarh: Haryana Police on Friday announced the formation of an all-women inquiry committee to look into allegations that women commuters were pulled out of their cars during the recent Jat agitation and mass gang rapes took place at Murthal in Haryana's Sonipat district.

Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) Y.P. Singhal said on Friday that the inquiry committee, headed by woman Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Rajshree Singh and comprising two women Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) Bharti Dabas and Surinder Kaur would probe the reported incidents.

Media reports said that the mass gang rapes took place in the early hours of Monday (February 22) and that up to 10 women were sexually assaulted by a group of nearly 40 hooligans during the Jat community's agitation or reservation.

The reports said that the women were pulled out of their cars, stripped and gang-raped in nearby fields. The victims later reached a nearby popular dhaba and sought help.

Media reports said clothes and undergarments of women were found strewn in the area but Haryana Police claimed that these could have fallen out from bags of the commuters who were stopped and chased away by the Jat protestors who set their vehicles on fire later.

Additional Chief Secretary P.K. Das told the media here on Friday that the state government was "very serious about this alleged incident and those found guilty would not be spared".

Das appealed to people to cooperate and provide information without any fear. "The identity of any informer would not be disclosed," Das said.

DGP Singhal denied that police personnel at lower level might be trying to keep a lid on the episode. It was alleged that local police officials told the women victims not to report the matter as nothing would be achieved out of it.

Asked whether the state Women Commission could get the issue investigated of its own, the DGP said: "Any statutory body did not require permission from the government."

Singhal said that if any of the victims of the mass gang rapes wanted to get in touch with the women officers, they would be available on their mobiles. He said that the inquiry team will go and record the statements of the victims wherever the victims were comfortable with.

"We want to get to the bottom of this matter. We have set up an inquiry committee of women officers who will be available in Sonipat. Victims, eyewitnesses or any other person having any information about the incident can contact the committee members," the DGP said.

Haryana Police and the state government on Wednesday denied any incident of 'indecent behaviour' and rape of women in Sonipat during the recent agitation.

"Investigations conducted by the Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Devender Singh and Inspector General of Police Paramjit Ahlawat had found the allegations made in the report false and baseless," the DGP claimed earlier.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday took suo moto notice of media reports that some women, who were commuting on the Delhi-Ambala highway (NH-1), were stripped and raped by rioters during the violent Jat agitation for job quota.

Justice Naresh Kumar Sanghi said the high court could not sit as a 'mute spectator' to the reported incidents and that these needed to be probed by a 'premier investigation agency'.

The Haryana government also denied that some persons behaved indecently with some women who were travelling in cars near village Kurad in Sonipat district.

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