REWARI: At least one or more of the suspects arrested for the September 12 Rewari gang rape had sexually assaulted other women at the same spot — a room with a tubewell next to a farm — and gotten away with it each time because the survivors and their families, who live in the area, did not speak out.
Police said they learnt of the four earlier sexual assaults involving the same group of men, who abducted, drugged and gang-raped a 19-year-old former state topper in board exams on September 12, while interrogating the five suspects.
A sixth suspect, Naveen (Nikku), was arrested on Tuesday from the Army Air Defence College in Odisha’s Gopalpur. Naveen, police said, is a jawan who joined the Army six months ago. Another Army jawan, Pankaj, was arrested in the case on September 23. Two more arrests were made late on Tuesday — Abhishek from Mahendergarh and Manjeet from Rajasthan — for allegedly helping the prime suspects. Mewat SP Nazneen Bhasin said all suspects in the crime have been nabbed.
Pankaj and his two friends, Nishu and Manish, were identified by police as the prime suspects. The trio allegedly followed the 19-year-old woman all the way to Mahendergarh, 40km away, abducted her at the bus stop where she got off, and brought her back to their Rewari village in Pankaj’s car.
A senior police officer told TOIthat Nishu had revealed during interrogation he lured other women to the room in the past, including sex workers, and that his friends had joined him there to sexually assault the women. They had become emboldened with time as no police complaints were filed, and no one spoke openly about it. “They were girls of marriageable age. If it became public knowledge, they would have no future,” a villager said.
But villagers knew all about Nishu, who lived in a sprawling house and came from a wealthy family. He had money to splurge, so a group of local men gravitated towards him. They would meet at Deendayal’s room, where the 19-year-old and women they targeted before her, were raped. Deendayal, too, has been arrested.
“Their luck ran out as the 19-year-old woman went ahead and reported the crime. The men deliberately used Pankaj’s car because she knew him very well and would not get suspicious. Pankaj was trained for his Army job by her father. She knew Nishu as well. These men never thought she will actually report this to the cops, something they had managed to dodge in the past,” said the police officer.
Nishu was sent to 14 days’ judicial custody on Tuesday. The local court also rejected the bail plea of Sanjeev, the registered medical practitioner who the suspects had called when they feared the 19-yearold’s health was sinking. Sanjeev was arrested because he did not report the crime to the police but told local residents about it.
Naveen, the Armyman arrested from Gopalpur, is from the same village, and was home on 28 days’ leave. “He was one of the people who visited the tubewell (room) when the survivor was held captive there. However, he also did not report the matter to the authorities,” said additional DGP Shrikant Jadhav.
Police did not rule out adding rape charges, saying they will make a decision after further investigation. Pankaj and Manish are also still in police custody.