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Chirang: What was categorically a case of alleged rape, now has been shrouded by medical negligence, threats and negotiation offers to the victim and point fingers to the police raising suspicion of botching the investigation and trying to ‘shield’ the accused, a known Right wing functionary in the region.

A 26-year-old woman was allegedly raped on Saturday, February 9, following which an FIR was lodged on the same date in Dhaligaon police station in Chirang district of Assam. The alleged accused, identified as Bimal Barman, a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) worker, was charged under section 376 of IPC which is categorised as non-bailable and only the court hold the authority to decide whether or not the bail can be granted to the accused. While, just over a week of the FIR being filed, there have been episodes of reports going missing. The case is now taking several twists where the victim is being threatened and she is allegedly receiving negotiation offers.

A still of the FIR copy filed soon after the incident took place

The Backstory

The victim, who is a homemaker from Dhaligaon village, in her statement said that she was been called by the accused regarding a signature that was required in a labour card. It was at around 5:30pm on February 9 when Barman allegedly picked up the lady from her home in his scooter and took her to his shop. After keeping her waiting for several hours, Barman took her to a makeshift shelter behind his shop in order to take her signature where he allegedly raped her. It has also been accused that Barman even threatened her of dire consequences and told her to keep silent regarding the incident. The incident surfaced when the victim’s husband came out to the street waiting for his wife. He found Barman along with the victim on the road and when questioned, the accused fled from the scene. Following which a complaint was filed at the police station.

Twists, turns and a missing report

Soon after the FIR was filed, the victim was taken for a medical examination at JSB Civil Hospital in Kajalgaon accompanied by a female police official. However, little did the victim know that a whole new case of medical negligence would emerge which will stand as a hurdle in her pursuit to attain justice. The samples collected for test and the report went missing from the hospital which could only be learnt on Monday, two days after the tests were conducted, putting the case in jeopardy.

In a statement to media, the superintendent of JSB civil hospital, Dr Monoj Kr. Das said, “It was the incident of Saturday, February 9 where the sample was collected by a lady doctor and was later handed over to the lady police personnel who had accompanied the victim. By that time, all the laboratory technicians had finished their duties and left the hospital and as a result, the police personnel could not find anyone and placed the sample on the laboratory table.”

“We think that the janitor must have cleaned the laboratory and since the samples and documents were unattended, he must have cleared everything off,” Das added.

The accused of the rape case, Bimal Barman, an RSS worker.

Uncertainty of the case

Now with the medical reports, which could have been substantial evidence to the case, going missing, cloud of uncertainty hovers over the entire incident. Speaking to EastMojo, Sudhakar Singh, superintendent of police, Chirang district said, “The accusation of rape cannot be confirmed yet since we could not provide any evidence against the accused. Thus, we could not arrest him either but we had interrogated him but till today no evidence of rape has come up.”

Singh also went to say that there are several other issues such as the FIR itself has false information and since the victim moved in with the accused, it is also suspected to be a case of consensual sex. He also mentioned that the negligence took place on the hospital’s end but it was not reported to police.

Meanwhile, experts say that arrests can be made right away when it comes to sexual offences.

Advocate and human rights activist Aman Wadud said, “‌According to Sec 41 of the criminal procedure code, police may arrest any person without warrant who has been concerned in any cognizable offence like rape, or against whom a reasonable complaint has been made, or a reasonable suspicion exists.”

Victim still under threat

Meanwhile, strong accusations are coming from the victim’s family members where they are being threatened to withdraw the case or they will have to face the consequences.

“We are being continuously threatened by members of RSS. They even came to our house last (Sunday) night and asked us to withdraw the case. They were saying that they will douse our house down and destroy our property if we do not withdraw the case. We were also offered money to do the same. We even had to leave our home and take shelter at our relative’s place. Now the police is saying that they will conduct the test again,” the victim’s husband said.

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