‘Missing’ rape victim may be on a visit: Goa Congress

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Panaji, May 14 (IANS) The “missing” rape victim who, in 2016, had accused Congress leader Atanasio Monserrate, now a candidate for the Panaji assembly bypoll on May 19, could have gone for a party or a wedding and may not be missing at all, Goa Congress legal cell Chairman Carlos Ferreira said on Tuesday.

Ferreira told reporters here that the victim, who was minor at the time of the alleged rape and is now a major of age, could have gone for a party or a wedding and could return back to the shelter home in South Goa, from where she went missing on April 28.

“She may have gone for a party or a wedding..she may return too. Police cannot file a case of abduction because she is now major of age. The case is motivated,” Ferreira said.

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Addressing a press conference at the party office here, state Congress President Girish Chodankar accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of allegedly facilitating the “sudden disappearance” of the victim, in order to draw political mileage ahead of the bypoll.

Nuns who run the shelter home, where the victim was being rehabilitated, had filed the missing complaint at the Verna police station in South Goa on April 28. On Monday, the police upgraded the missing complaint and added charges under Section 362 (abduction) of the Indian Penal Code.

Police sources said that the victim had “disappeared” on four occasions in the past, but had returned back to the shelter home on each occasion. The police investigation has revealed that she was last seen getting off a public transport bus on April 28 at Zuarinagar, a suburb of the port town of Vasco in South Goa district.

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Monserrate was chargesheeted last year under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 506 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act after being booked in 2016 for allegedly raping the girl, who was minor at the time, after drugging her.

The state Congress president also accused the BJP of “engineering” the controversy for political benefit.

“The girl went missing on April 28 and the BJP with the help of the police is raking this controversy for political benefit. The BJP has resorted to such unscrupulous strategies in the past. The police is helping the BJP-led coalition government to create a situation and get political mileage,” Chodankar said.

“Their plan is to create an atmosphere of confusion before the election. For all you know, we may see, the victim return back to the home after elections. The government and the police should provide protection to her at the earliest,” he added.

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