How the K’taka cop who raped mentally challenged woman was nailed

The conviction of a police officer for the rape of a mentally challenged woman in a moving car in Tumakuru district of Karnataka made national headlines. However, the challenges overcome by the prosecution in getting the conviction of the police officer is not less than a thrilling story.

The victim, though 34 years old, has the mental ability of a 6-year-old child. The prosecution had the task of proving the charges as the defence counsel was trying to prove that it was a consensual act. The prosecution was keeping its fingers crossed over the cross-examination as the mentally challenged, child-like victim had to face the cross-examination on her own.

The victim not only faced the cross-examination confidently but her innocent disposition and straight answers convinced the court about the dastardly act committed by the policeman. She recognizes the convicted police officer as ‘Umesh uncle’ even today!

The Karnataka local court had awarded 20 years rigorous imprisonment and Rs 1 lakh fine to Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Umeshaiah on January 31. The accused police officer had taken away the mentally challenged victim in a private vehicle on the pretext of dropping her home in the wee hours on January 15, 2017 and had raped her near Antarasanahalli Bridge near Tumakuru in the moving car. Judge H.S. Mallikarjuna Swami of the Second Additional District and Sessions Court had convicted the accused cop.

V.A. Kavitha, the Public Prosecutor who fought and won the case, told IANS that it was a very challenging case. “The victim suffered from psychosis, which is a mental disorder where the patient’s mindset will be fluctuating. The symptoms vary from patient to patient. The victim suffering from psychosis was having the mind of a four-and-a-half or five-year old kid when the incident took place,” she says.

“She can’t use her intellect while answering and would answer any question in one word only in yes or no. For example if she is asked whether she had food, she would only say yes or no. When I took over the job of Public Prosecutor after being promoted, the case was four years old. The High Court direction was there in the case and the accused was moving a bail petition claiming health problems. More than that, the victim had no idea of court proceedings, witness box etc.,” Kavitha explains.

Kavitha started to take her to the court premises and brought her juice, snacks to get the victim used to the court environment. After about 15 days, the victim developed a bond with her. One of the fears was what if the victim showed wild behaviour after seeing the accused.

Kavitha took a photograph on her mobile and showed it to the victim and asked whether she knew him. To her surprise, without any change in her behaviour, the victim identified the accused as ‘Umesh Uncle’ and she was able to tell what happened to her which could nail the police officer.

When the proceedings started in the court, the advocates appearing for the accused claimed that the victim is being tutored. “But, after the victim faced cross-examination and answered their questions they had nothing to say. The victim faced cross questions better than the normal victims,” Kavitha informs.

The court treated the victim like its own child. The usually lengthy cross-examination was cut short, she was given a break and allowed to get fresh air for 15 minutes after 10 to 15 questions considering her state of mind. She was offered water while answering questions. The cross-examination was done for one and a half days.

When the opposing counsel asked her why she didn’t scream for help when the incident took place, the victim replied who would have heard her when all the windows were closed in the vehicle. When she was again asked why she didn’t provide her brother’s contact number earlier (after the incident the cop manages to get the phone number), the victim told the court that when she was gagged with a cloth, how could she have given the number earlier.

The police investigation report, audio graph, FSL reports, potency test, police witnesses and records and the statement of the victim helped to get the conviction.

The incident:

The victim started off on her own towards Anjaneya (Hanuman) temple despite her mother’s warning not to go on the festival day of Sankranti at about 7 p.m. from her residence. She had an attachment to the temple as her family earlier resided very close to that temple. She walked for about 9 kilometres and reached the temple by 11 p.m.

The temple was closed by that time and she slept on the platform of the temple. She woke up much later after being bitten by mosquitoes and started walking towards her home. The victim did not remember the path and just started walking.

After walking for about 4 kms, she sat near a tree and the accused police officer on night duty spotted her at 2 a.m. He said he would drop her home, stopped a vehicle and took her along. He then committed the crime in the moving car after threatening the driver.

When she was finally dropped home at 4.30 a.m., the victim collapsed after seeing her mother. After being comforted, she told her mother that ‘Umesh uncle’ (accused cop) had bitten her on her chest, cheeks, scratched her, beaten her in spite her resistance and explained the act of rape.

When her mother questioned the accused police officer why he did it, the accused maintained that he was like her father and why would he do that to her. The mother gave the victim a bath and put her to bed. They approached the police at 8 a.m., the next morning. Initially the police did not believe their charges but as they conducted a preliminary investigation and the medical test reports came, they booked an FIR against the accused cop.

Kavitha, who secured the conviction, says that she has done the work entrusted to her. “I am neutral. I have started working on another case.”

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