Love for puppies drew a nine-year-old girl in Dahisar to frequently visit a block of rundown, abandoned houses, where a stray dog had recently given birth to a litter.
Locals point out the spot where the girl was assaulted by the accused, Rafiq Qureshi
But she proved that apart from a heart of gold, she also has nerves of steel, when a 19-year-old drug addict sexually assaulted her as she was feeding the puppies on Monday morning. Despite the fact that he was under the influence of drugs and threatened to kill her if she made noise, the girl continued to yell until he was too nervous to go on.
The survivor recognised her attacker’s face but was not aware of his name. He was later identified as Rafiq Qureshi, a 19-year-old school dropout who did odd jobs in the locality and is known to be a drug addict. “The puppies were in those abandoned rooms in the area. He (Qureshi) followed me when I went there to feed them.
He then grabbed me and took me inside one of the abandoned rooms and tried to force himself on me,” the Std IV student told mid-day, adding that she was especially distressed because the puppies had witnessed the entire episode. Qureshi forced her to perform oral sex and was about to rape her, but she was crying and screaming loudly.
According to her father, Qureshi then picked up a rock and threatened to smash it into her face if she made any more noise or told anyone about the incident. By this point, however, he was too nervous to rape her and let her go. The survivor walked home in tears, prompting her neighbours to ask what had happened.
She refused to tell anyone except her friend, however. A local resident, Yadunath Prajapati, said, “The local women gathered and asked why the girl was crying and in such bad shape. She refused to talk to anyone. She recounted the whole ordeal to one of her close friends, after which the matter came to light.”
According to another local, Ramashray Chauhan, the accused sensed trouble and escaped, while the girl was taken to the police station to file a complaint. “There was pressure from a local politician to take back the case but I want justice my girl was just saved in time and anything could have happened. She is still in the hospital in a state of shock and is missing school,” said the survivor’s father.
However, senior police inspector P Jadhav of Dahisar police station denied there was any pressure. He said, “There was no delay in taking the case and no pressure from anyone. We are fully cooperating. The accused will be arrested soon.”
An FIR was registered under Sections 376(1) (rape), 506 (criminal intimidation), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the IPC and Sections 4, 8 and 12 of POCSO Act.