Kolkata: A West Bengal court on Tuesday sent to seven days police custody a soldier arrested for the gang rape of a teenage girl inside a train, while the army assured assistance to police in nabbing two of its personnel alleged to have committed the crime.
The 14-year-old girl, hailing from Dum Dum in Bengal’s North 24 Parganas district, was allegedly raped by two army men after forcing her to drink alcohol inside a reserved military compartment of the Howrah-Amritsar Express.
The girl, who boarded the train from Howrah on her way to Ludhiana, was rescued in a joint effort by Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel at Madhupur station in Jharkhand on Monday.
While two of the alleged culprits managed to escape, the third personnel, accused to have forced the girl to drink, was arrested by the GRP and handed over to the Howrah GRP which has now taken over the investigation.
Charged with several offences including under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the arrested accused — identified as Manjrish Tripathi — was presented before a court in Howrah which sent him to police custody for seven days.
The girl, who identified the accused in a video footage, also deposed before the magistrate.
“We had sought seven days custody of the accused which the court granted us. We are studying the video footage of the train to ascertain the identity and locate the two absconding accused. We are confident of apprehending them soon,” said a GRP officer.
“The victim also recorded her statement before the magistrate and we are interrogating the accused to gather more information about the two absconding accused,” the officer added.
A medical examination conducted on the girl confirmed rape.
The girl was rescued after the GRP received a complaint from her father that she fled home and boarded the train.
According to the family, the girl had left her house unannounced to meet a man in Ludhiana whom she had befriended on a social networking site.
The army, which has initiated a probe in the matter, assured it would assist police in locating the accused soldiers.
“We have assured full cooperation to the Howrah GRP which is now investigating the case. We have also initiated a probe into the matter. We are assisting the investigators in identifying and tracking the two accused,” said an army source.
Meanwhile, the All India Democratic Students’ Organisation (AIDSO), a students’ organisation affiliated to the Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), staged a demonstration in the city demanding capital punishment for the alleged rapists.
Staging the demonstration outside Raj Bhavan here, some of AIDSO activists were arrested after they clashed with police.