A controversy has erupted in Himachal Pradesh over the alleged gang rape of a student of Degree College in Dharamshala. Hundreds of students took to the streets in protest of this incident. However, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and state police have insisted that the rape never took place.

On May 23, a woman told the college principal, Rampal Chopra and a number of other people that her sister was gang raped on campus.

"The complainant who visited the principal’s office on Saturday is a married lady but does not have any younger sister as claimed earlier and the so-called victim student has a younger brother and sister,” the SP said.

College students protest the rape of a fellow student and inaction by the police | Source: himsmachar.com

According to the police the victim has denied these charges and mentioned she has not seen the complainant in the last four years.

Speaking to reporters in Shimla, Himachal DGP Sanjay Kumar said the two women and their parents have been taken into protective custody and the parents have also stated that there was no truth in the case.

CM Singh dismissed the claims of gang-rape, saying the incident was being created to “malign the image of some people”.

"The lady’s friend is in police custody and she is being questioned. According to the investigation till now, the girl was being used to malign the image of some people. It appears to be an organised attempt to malign somebody. The culprits should be ashamed,” he said, adding that investigation is on.

Social media tells a different tale

Meanwhile, people took to social media platforms to vent this frustration over the incident. Clearly they were convinced the rape took place and the police along with the CM were trying to cover it up.

Many claimed the victim has succumbed to injuries, and the reason no action is taking place is because the culprits belong to high profile families. However, none of this information has been corroborated.

Political twist

It didn't take long for opposition parties to add their two bits, giving the incident a new twist.

The BJP has rejected the decision by the police, claiming they are trying to cover up the incident. One India quoted BJP spokesperson Ganesh Dutt as saying, " Police is acting under state government's pressure. They are trying to cover up the entire incident." Local BJP leaders are claiming the culprits belong to families of Congress ministers and therefore the CM and police are trying to protect them.

BJP minister Krishan Kapoor demanded that the accused should be sentenced to death in accordance with the law, irrespective of their status.

The VHP has also joined the cause and added their own views. State secretary Manoj Kumar demanded that culprits be immediately arrested, brought to justice and awarded capital punishment. "If the case is not investigated properly and culprits are not awarded capital punishment, the crime against women would escalate in the state and the image of Himachal, known as 'Dev Bhumi' would be sullied," One India quoted him as saying.

Himachal Pradesh CM Virbhadra Singh | Source: niticentral.com

In terms of hard evidence, the police claim there is none. However, what is unnerving is that the FIR was only registered once the protests broke out. When the incident was first reported to the principal and other teachers, why wasn't an FIR launched? The incident is eluding, the stories do not match up and the facts have not been represented properly.

It is possible that the complainant made up the story in order to malign a Congress minister, that would explain the uproar by the BJP and VHP. But unfortunately it is equally likely that the police and CM are working to cover up the case in order to protect the culprits.

The information will surely release sooner or later, however, it is disappointing that traditional media has not taken a firmer stance on this matter and investigated it themselves. Have we become so attuned to brutality and violence that an incident like this does not automatically raise concern. Or is it simply that the case does not warrant the "Nirbhaya" kind of attention?

(With inputs from PTI)

Feature image source: himsmachar.com