Seven men allegedly forced themselves into a hotel room and assaulted an interfaith couple during their stay at the hotel. The 6 men have now been formally charged, the police confirmed on Friday. In what seems like a case of moral policing, three people the police says are from a minority community have already been arrested in connection with the incident that took place on January 8.
The police received the victim’s statement on Thursday afternoon, wherein she detailed being gang-raped by the seven assailants who also subjected her to physical assault. The woman has also alleged that she was gang raped. Following this, section 376 D (gang rape) has been added to the existing FIR based on her allegations. Three arrests have been made so far, and one suspect is currently hospitalised due to an accident that occurred a day after the alleged incident.
The victim initially implicated six individuals and then went on to later identifying additional accomplices. According to the police account, the brutal assault, which unfolded within the confines of a hotel room was recorded by the assailants and later went viral after circulating on various social media platforms. In the disturbing video, six men are depicted knocking on a room’s door. Upon the door opening, the assailants forcefully entered and started assaulting the couple.
According to the police account, an auto-rickshaw driver noticed the arrival of the couple at the hotel. Witnessing a woman in a burqa accompanied by a man from a different community, the driver promptly had reportedly alerted a local gang sharing the same minority background. The men arrived on three motorcycles and then transported the couple to an isolated location approximately a kilometre away from the hotel. Once there, they subjected the couple to further physical assault, including verbal abuse, rape and strikes with sticks. Following the ordeal, the assailants handed the woman Rs. 500 and instructed her to return to her native place. She eventually sought refuge in Sirsi, where her husband resides, as told by a senior police officer. The accused people are unaffiliated with any organisation, they also don’t have a criminal background, although thorough verification is underway, according to the report.
In India, a mere 2% of the population cross the boundaries of faith in marriage, according to a 2021 report by the Pew Research Centre. The study reveals data from interfaith marriages across several religious groups shows that interfaith marriage continues to be an exception. The data reveals 99% of Hindus, 98% of Muslims, 97% of Sikhs and Buddhists, and 95% of Christians in India have marriages within their respective communities. Honour killings of women, and men, who engage in interfaith or inter-caste marriages are prevalent. The governments of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana have been compelled to recognise this horrific trend and have set up safe houses in their states where these couples can come and stay when their lives are threatened. Recently, Maharashtra government too had set up safe houses to provide security and shelter to interfaith and inter-caste couples. These changes have been affected by long-standing advocacy by NGOs and activists. Vice Media’s story on one such organisation, Dhanak which has been working for nearly two decades helping provide a dignified future for interfaith couples who have chosen paths distinct from their families. The organisation has provided assistance to approximately 5,000 couples. However, even NGOs and activists who seek to help these couples are not spared as the article details how the organisation has to contend with threats and furious family members.