While speaking about the Dombivali gang rape case, Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister and NCP leader Ajit Pawar on Friday made a controversial statement and not only questioned the rape survivor’s silence but also blamed her parents.

Speaking to the media, Pawar said: “Had the rape survivor informed her parents about the blackmail earlier, these rape cases could have been avoided (other accused taking advantage).”

Going further, he also blamed the parents saying that ‘they need to keep a close eye on their kids’.

“In earlier times, such things never happened,” he added.

At least 26 people have been arrested in connection with the alleged blackmailing and repeated gang rape of a 15-year-old girl. Two minors have also been detained.

The girl was allegedly raped multiple times at different places in the Thane district including Dombivli, Badlapur, Murbad and Rabale between January 29 and September 22 this year. The survivor had named 33 men as accused, police had said on Thursday.

Based on the girl’s complaint, the Manpada police in Dombivli on Wednesday registered a case against 33 persons under IPC sections 376 (rape), 376 (n) (repeated rape), 376 (d) (gang-rape), 376 (3) (rape on a woman under sixteen years of age) and provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

As per the girl’s statement to police, she met the main accused Vijay Phuke and Tushar Kasbe in December 2020 through a common friend, and Phuke began to chat with her on the mobile. On January 29, Phuke called her to a spot in Dombivli East and took her in an auto-rickshaw saying they were going to meet their common friend.

But she was taken to some other place where four persons including Phuke gang-raped her, she alleged. The accused blackmailed her by threatening to circulate her pictures and recorded a video of the sexual assault on their mobile phones, she said.

In February, the girl’s family shifted to another residence. On February 20, Phuke called and asked her to meet him. When she refused, he accosted her near her new house the next day, and threatened to show her video to her family members, she alleged. Scared, she agreed to go with him and was sexually assaulted by at least eight men this time, she told police. Similar incidents happened on March 22, May 5 and 16, July 28 and September 22, and sometimes she was given sedatives before she was raped, she claimed.

On May 5, when she did not return home at night, her mother had even filed a missing person complaint, but the girl returned the next day and did not tell anything to her parents. In one instance, she saw Phuke and a co-accused taking Rs 1,000 from a friend after they forced her to have sex with him, she said.

She finally mustered the courage to speak to her mother about the ordeal on September 22 after which the offence was registered and the probe began.

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