K’taka Police probing rape, forced labour charges by Santhali women

Bengaluru, June 12 (IANS) The police in Karnataka's Ramanagara district are probing the allegations of gang-rape, forced labour and under payment levelled by two Santhali tribal women from Jharkhand, an official said on Friday.

“A Santhali tribal woman from Jharkhand has complained of being gang-raped by two middlemen from the district and also of being under paid for forced labour. We are probing the charges,” official sources told IANS.

The police have arrested two men in their late 20s and sent them to judicial custody.

Another accused, Sanjeev, is in Tamil Nadu and the police are yet to contact him owing to Covid constraints.

Sanjeev, 60, recently underwent a bypass surgery and there is no rape allegation against him.

The women also complained that their wages were deducted by the middlemen.

However, the victims' inability to speak Hindi or any other language other than their mother tongue is proving difficult for the police department.

And to make matters worse, the women left for their home state Jharkhand even before the alleged rape victim could undergo a medical test to prove the rape allegations.

“We are taking help to first translate her statements from Santhali to Hindi and then to Kannada for us to comprehend the case and her complaints,” said the source.

Through video conferencing, the police recorded the woman's statement in the presence of a magistrate.

The police are also making videos of the victims' complaints to send them to Jharkhand for translation into Hindi or English.

The police have registered an FIR for trafficking under IPC Section 370.

The alleged crime occurred during the last 10 days of May near Kumbalgodu in the district, not very far from Bengaluru.

Meanwhile, the police are yet to receive an official complaint from the district authorities about the women being subjected to forced labour.

“For the district authorities to complain, all the victims of forced labour have to be present but currently they are all in Jharkhand,” said the source.

To reach out to the tribal victims, the police are coordinating with a couple of NGOs.

Similarly, the police are also taking the help of Jharkhand's Dumka district bureaucrat, Rajeshwari, who happens to be from Karnataka.



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