Uttar Pradesh: Minor Girl Runs Away With Family Of Alleged Rapist With Newborn Baby; Kin And Police Say Whereabouts Unknown

Uttar Pradesh: Minor Girl Runs Away With Family Of Alleged Rapist With Newborn Baby; Kin And Police Say Whereabouts Unknown

by Swati Goel Sharma - Wednesday, November 17, 2021 11:20 AM IST
Uttar Pradesh: Minor Girl Runs Away With Family Of Alleged Rapist With Newborn Baby; Kin And Police Say Whereabouts UnknownRepresentative image.
  • The 15-year-old girl delivered a baby in September.

    The accused, Mohammad Shehzad, was arrested on charges of rape and forced religious conversion two months earlier.

In July, family of a 15-year-old Hindu girl filed a police case against a Muslim man for impregnating her, repeatedly raping her on pretext of marriage and getting her religion changed to Islam when she was still a minor.

The complaint also accused the man’s family of assisting him in the crime.

The police booked seven members of the family, including key accused Mohammad Shehzad, under various IPC sections including gangrape of minor (376DA), and sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act as well as Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance, 2020.

The police also invoked Scheduled Castes Prevention of Atrocities Act as the girl belongs to the Valmiki community, which is a Scheduled Caste.

The FIR (number 665/2021) was filed at Baghpat Police Station in west Uttar Pradesh on 17 July. The police arrested Shehzad, his father Haroon and his mother Gulafsha the next day.

Statement of the girl’s guardian in the FIR
Statement of the girl’s guardian in the FIR

The girl was seven months pregnant at that time.

An activist, Priyanka Arya, who met the girl at her house in Baghpat district in July, told this correspondent that time that the girl wanted to marry Shehzad but was furious that he and his family had turned her away a few days ago.

The girl told the activist that the two were in a relationship since she was 12. She said that although she had later learnt that Shehzad was already married and had a child, he had assured her that he would “give” his wife to his younger brother and marry her.

When she became pregnant in January, Shehzad told her to stay mum about their relationship and pregnancy till an opportune time, she said.

“A few days ago, I left my house to go live with him. But he and his family abused me and turned me away,” the girl told Arya.

The case was given a miss by the national English media, but was covered in the local Hindi media. Read here, here and here.

Four months have passed since the police case. There have, however, been no-follow up reports of the case.

This correspondent spoke to the girl’s family on 16 November.

Satish Kumar, the girl’s uncle and guardian, said she gave birth to a daughter in September.

He said that when she was still in the nursing home, Shehzad’s family took her away with them. The girl went willingly. They took the baby too.

Satish said he does not know her whereabouts. “She has not contacted me since she left with Shehzad’s family two months ago. I have no way of contacting her,” he said.

Shehzad’s house, located less than a kilometre away, has been locked since then, he said.

The girl has been raised by her uncle, Satish. Her mother died of an accident when she was an infant. Her father handed the girl to his brother-in-law (the girl’s fufa, Satish) while he shifted to Delhi and remarried.

Satish says he raised the girl her like his own child. “I do not have any children from my own marriage. This girl was my only child,” he says.

Satish says that Shehzad, his father and his mother are still in jail.

The circle officer (CO) of Baghpat did not confirm this. The officer said that he did not know if any of the accused has got bail. “That is a court matter. We are not involved in that,” the officer told this correspondent on 16 November over the phone.

Asked about the girl’s whereabouts, the officer said the police station has received no complaint regarding her disappearance.

Satish told this correspondent that before going, the girl had left a written note at the Baghpat Police Station that she was going with Shehzad’s family willingly.

The circle officer said he did not know of any such note.

Satish says that he has told some Muslim men from the area he knows closely, to keep a watch on Shehzad’s house and inform him immediately if they see anyone entering it.

“Although I am very hurt that despite all my efforts, my daughter chose to go with him [Shehzad], I am still concerned for her. Very much so,” he said.

Satish says he learnt about the girl’s relationship with Shehzad in January when she got pregnant. He later learnt that the two had come in touch when Shehzad temporarily worked in his house as a mason (mistri) about three years earlier.

Satish is a government employee. He says his family is “far better” than Shehzad’s in financial status. “We have many government employees in the family, including women, while Shehzad’s family does labour work for a living,” he said.

Pregnancy of his minor daughter was a matter of great concern as well as social humiliation for him, he says.

“But I chose to side with my child. I told her that she should not worry, and no matter what neighbours say, she should carry on with her life as usual. I told her I would get her married to a good boy from our community.”

Satish says the girl has been “brainwashed” by Shehzad.

“Somehow he convinced her that he would give his wife to his younger brother and the two would live happily ever after.“

“Is this even possible? Can a man who is willing to leave his first wife be trusted for a relationship? Perhaps I had pampered her so much that she failed to see through men,” Satish said.

The girl completed her pregnancy at his uncle’s house. It was on the third day of her delivery that Shehzad’s family came with “seven-eight” men at the nursing home and took her away in a car, Satish says.

“I was not at the nursing home that time, but some of my relatives were. They couldn’t do anything.”

Satish says that Shehzad’s family, that had earlier turned her away from their house, was likely to use her for an out-of-court settlement in the legal case.

“I am educated. I know the laws. But what can one do if one’s own daughter goes against you.”

He said that when the girl left a note at the police station, a cop called up Satish who, in turn, called up his lawyer. “My lawyer told me it’s over now. That it’s futile to pursue the case,” he says.

Sudha Kumari, an aunt of the girl who also lives in Baghpat, told this correspondent that the girl went along quite well with a cousin, and the family was hopeful that the cousin would get a call from her some day.

When told about the case, the National Child Commission chairman Priyank Kanoongo questioned the role of the police and district administration.

He said that because the girl was a minor at the time of “rape” and delivery of the child, she and her child are responsibility of the government.

He said that police should immediately locate the girl and produce her before the child welfare committee concerned.

Kanoongo said the accused’s family is likely to threaten the girl against testifying to allegations made in the FIR as she is a witness in the POCSO case.

Kanoongo said he would take up the matter.

Swati Goel Sharma is a senior editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @swati_gs.

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