So, the Kunduli minor was not raped, after all! The startling revelation, quoting the medical report conducted on the Class IX girl, by the ADG, Human Rights Protection Cell (HRPC) of Odisha police on Tuesday was understandably greeted with all-round skepticism because it throws up more questions than it answers.
On top of the list of questions that the revelation has spawned is: why didn’t it come earlier? The medical test on the girl could not have been conducted yesterday or the day before, could it? In fact, reports in the immediate aftermath of the incident suggested that the first test on the girl was conducted at the Kunduli hospital barely an hour or so after her ‘non-rape’. This was followed up with a more detailed examination by a team of 10 doctors, including three FMT experts, at the Shaheed Laxman Naik Medical College and Hospital (SLNMCH) in Koraput over two days on October 10 (the day the ‘non-rape’ took place!) & 11 as revealed by the same HRPC in its deposition before the Odisha Human Rights Commission (OHRC) last Wednesday. In its bizarre deposition, the HRPC had claimed that while it appeared to be a case of rape, it had to be backed up by the medical report! As if that was not incredible enough, it also failed to mention what the report had revealed prompting the OHRC to ask the SLNMCH Director to appear in person and submit a detailed medical report on November 6.
The assertion that there was no rape – forget gang rape – would have had a semblance of credibility had it come immediately after the test done at SLNMCH. Coming as it does nearly a month after the incident, it was bound to invite cynicism and derision. What exactly was the police waiting for: a lashing from the OHRC?
There are other equally important questions that the revelation today has thrown up. If the girl was not raped, what she was being treated for all these weeks? Having discharged her once, why did the authorities at SLNMCH readmit her in the hospital after her condition supposedly ‘deteriorated’? Why counselors had to be rushed from Bhubaneswar to counsel her? Why were the four youths from the victim’s village picked up by the police if there was no rape? Why was one of them made to undergo a lie detection test? And last but not the least, will the police now initiate action against the victim now that she has been ‘proved’ to have leveled a ‘false’ allegation of rape?
For reasons known only to itself, Koraput police is unwilling to come out with the whole truth even at this late stage. All that Koraput SP Kanwar Vishal Singh would say is the ongoing Crime Branch probe would reveal the ‘truth’. The SP has also repeated his earlier claim that no movement of security forces was reported in Kunduli area on the day the incident took place – as if that, in itself, proves the girl’s charge ‘false’. While it may be technically correct, nothing prevents ‘lone wolf’ predators from preying on a hapless girl.
Even assuming that the slyly planted stories in the media suggesting that the whole thing was the result of a teenage love affair gone horribly wrong is true, the theory would have ‘zero’ credibility for two reasons. The first – and the most obvious – of these is the question why didn’t this revelation come in the immediate aftermath of the incident – and officially instead of leaks to the media? The second reason for this story being taken with a bagful of salt is this; given that four weeks have elapsed since the incident and the girl has spent the better part of this period in the government run hospital, will it not be legitimate to suspect that the girl was being kept there long enough to ensure that no conclusive proof of rape remains should there be a fresh medical examination ordered by the court?
No matter what ‘proof’ the police now comes out with to back its case that there was no rape, people would find it hard to believe. They would be more inclined to suspect that the medical report was prepared to suit the police version of the incident – all because of the way the police has conducted itself since October 10. In any case, the mere thought of a 14-year old cooking up a story about being raped – and, more importantly, sticking steadfastly to it for nearly a month despite being in the eye of the police 24X7 – stretches credulity to the extreme.
We often use the expression ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’. But this one appears to be a case of ‘making a molehill out of a mountain’!