A self-styled godman (Baba) was arrested on Tuesday on charges of sexually abusing a physically handicapped minor girl from a tribal village under Badasahi police limits in Mayurbhanj district.
Though the horrific incident took place on January 23, the matter came to the light on Tuesday after the survivor complained about sickness and was moved to the Pandit Raghunath Murmu Medical College and Hospital in Baripada for treatment.
As per reports, the incident took place when parents of the girl were out to attend a social event leaving her at home. After learning about the absence of her parents, the self-styled Godman, identified as Jetharam Murmu, allegedly dragged the girl out of her house before raping her.
When the family members came to know about the incident, they reported the matter to the village Panchayat.
As per reports, the Panchayat called a meeting, which was attended by 25-30 other villagers, where it was decided to settle the matter between the survivor’s family and the accused. At the meeting, the accused was imposed a penalty of Rs 90, 000 which was to be paid to the survivor’s family.
However, the Baba paid Rs 5,000 to the family and deferred from paying the rest amount.
“It was decided by the Panchayat members during the meeting to pay the survivor Rs 90, 000 and ‘settle’ the matter. The accused agreed to the decision and instantly paid Rs 5, 000 from which Rs 2, 000 was deposited with the Panchayat. However, later he didn’t pay the rest amount,” said a relative of the survivor.
After learning about the incident, officials from Baripada Town Police Station reached the hospital and launched a probe into the matter.
Murmu, who was initially detained by the police, was later arrested following unprecedented public outrage.
"The incident took place a few days back, but we received a report about it today (January 25). After receiving the complaint, we immediately took steps and detained the accused. Medical examination of both the victim (survivor) and the accused have been conducted. We will take the relevant actions," informed Suresh Patra, Additional SP, Mayurbhanj.
When queried about the reported efforts made by the Panchayat and some villagers to suppress the crime through monetary settlement, the ASP said, "We have launched an investigation into the matter. We will take necessary actions against those involved in the cover-up."
Nevertheless, the initiative made by the Panchayat to settle the horrific crime with monetary compensation has raised serious question marks over the faith people repose in the police department in the State.