Mumbai Crime: Mentally disabled 18-year-old raped for a fourth time

Nov 23, 2018, 07:26 IST | Samiullah Khan

Despite repeated instances of assault - including gang rape - parents are unwilling to put her in a welfare home, neither are they able to take care of her

Mumbai Crime: Mentally disabled 18-year-old raped for a fourth time
Illustrations/Uday Mohite

A Malad East resident, who is an 18-year-old woman with an intellectual disability, has become the target of a fourth rape in as many years. While the 11 accused from the previous three cases have been put behind bars, the Dindoshi police on Thursday caught one Raju Puransingh, 25, for the latest incident. He raped the teenager after 'marrying' her.

According to sources from the Dindoshi police station, the rape was preceded by the teenager's disappearance. She suddenly left from her family's residence on November 14, and was nowhere to be found. Her family members approached the police, but were turned away by being told to look for her at their relatives' homes instead.

Armed with her photograph, her family went to the Aksa-Dana Pani beach locality, as she was previously raped near the area. But again, she was nowhere to be found. On November 21, the Dindoshi police finally registered a missing person's complaint and launched a massive manhunt to find her near Aksa beach, Madh and their surrounding areas. After a long search, a local informed them that the teenager was last seen near the Madh Bhati village. On the basis of that tip, cops scanned CCTV footage of the area and saw that she was moving towards Versova.

Found outside a temple
The cops and her family began looking for her in Versova and found her sitting outside a temple on Wednesday night. She was taken to the Dindoshi police station, but was not in a condition to reveal anything. Later, she told her elder sister about everything that had happened. Based on that, an FIR was registered.

Her elder sister said the girl had left from home on November 14 and went to Aksa beach. There, Raju met her and took her to his Versova home for a few days. He bought clothes and jewellery for her, including a mangalsutra. Then, the two got married at a temple. The couple later headed to Juhu beach, where the girl tattooed her arm.

'Husband' is the rapist
However, later on, Raju raped her at his house. The very next day, he snatched her mangalsutra and threw her out of his house, said a police officer. Raju couldn't hide in the shadow of his crime for too long. Cops caught him after the 18-year-old took them to his residence. He confessed to his crime after being taken into custody. The previous 11 accused in the three gang rape cases were booked under kidnapping and gang rape sections of the Indian Penal Code and the POCSO Act, and Raju has been for Section 376 (rape).

Senior police inspector from Rajaram Vhanmane from Dindoshi police station said, "The accused arrested on Thursday, Raju Puransingh, resided in Versova in a rented flat and worked at a private company as a caretaker. He has been booked and arrested under the charges of rape and would be produced before the court on Friday."

Another police officer said, "The teenager is intellectually disabled. After the first incident, we'd suggested her parents to send her to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) or some other NGO for better treatment and also suggested several private centres in Matunga, Bandra and other government centres in Dongri. But her parents refused to send her there and even gave the same in writing. After that, we requested CWC officials to counsel her at her home. Several officers counselled her for many months."

'Couldn't send her to ashram'
Speaking to mid-day, the girl's elder sister said, "She might be 18 years old, but her brain development is less than that of a child. This is the fourth time she was raped; the previous three times were gang rapes. As she is intellectually disabled, people take advantage of her condition and abuse her mentally and sexually."

The sister said cops had suggested them to keep the teen in an ashram for counselling after the first incident, but after making an inquiry the family found that they'd get to see her only once a month if she were moved there. "We wanted to find an ashram where she could live and learn during the daytime and return home in the evening, but we did not find such a place," said the sister.

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"After seeing the condition of the ashrams in crime awareness television shows, my parents refused to keep her there. After the third incident, people from several NGO's appointed by CWC used to visit our house to counsel her, but they stopped coming in May," she added. She also said that cops told her about the government giving her sister a compensation of Rs 10 lakh. However, they have received only Rs 3 lakh until now, which in a fixed deposit under the teenager's name.

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