Nashik peaceful after anti-rape protests

Nashik (Maharashtra): A day after arson and protests against the alleged rape of a five-year-old girl, Nashik in Maharashtra limped to normalcy on Monday, officials said.

"The situation is tense but under control. We have deployed adequate police personnel in the affected villages. The highway and city roads are normal," Superintendent of Police (Rural) Ankush Shinde said.

He said several persons involved in Sunday's violence and damage to public properties had been arrested.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Laxmikant Patil said any attempt by mischief mongers to violate the law "would be dealt with a heavy hand".

Police Commissioner R.K. Singhal said suitable action had been taken against the alleged rapist and urged people not to believe rumours circulating on social media networks.

In Amravati, Union Minister for Social Justice Ramdas Athavale, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and NCP President Sharad Pawar made separate appeals to the people to maintain peace.

On Sunday, thousands of people blocked the Mumbai-Agra highway, attacked the police and targeted public and private vehicles to protest against the rape.

Twenty policemen were injured and several vehicles, including nine state transport buses and four police vans, were torched.

Police fired several rounds in the air to disperse the mobs. The Mumbai-Agra, Nashik-Igatpuri and Nashik-Aurangabad highways remained choked for nearly eight hours.

The immediate provocation for the violence is reported to be a statement by Nashik Guardian Minister Girish Mahajan who said it was not a rape, but attempted rape.

The incident occurred in the Trimbakeshwar pilgrim town in the district where a case was registered late on Sunday night by the victim's mother.

Fadnavis said the accused has been arrested and the case would be tried in a fast track court. The victim's health was being monitored and her family was being extended all help.

The incident occurred on Saturday when the victim's parents, both farm labourers, had gone to work in the fields.

The accused teenager, aged 15 or 16, allegedly attempted to lure the two sisters, a seven-year-old and a five-year-old girl, who were playing near a temple in the Talegaon-Anjaneri village.

While the older girl refused to go, the younger one went with him after he gave her money to buy a soft drink.

Later, the boy took the younger girl to some dilapidated structure behind the temple and allegedly raped her.

Mahajan has announced that the charge-sheet in the case would be filed within a fortnight and veteran criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nikam would be appointed the special public prosecutor.

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