Janmashtami rape case: A fortnight on, 8-year-old victim still can’t sleep

Hindustan Times

Avantika Mehta , Hindustan Times New Delhi, August 31, 2014

A traumatised eight-year-old, who was raped on Janmashtami by a 70-year-old priest from a temple, says she doesn’t want to fall asleep again. “I see Baba’s face every time I close my eyes,” she explains.

A fortnight after the incident, she has to relive the trauma over and again — giving her statement to police, identifying her rapist in the Test Identification Parade (TIP), and the unwavering gaze of journalists eager for a story.

The report of her rape has translated into legal proceedings before a magistrate’s court in Saket, and this eight-year-old has already had to confront her rapist twice — during identification and when he was sent to judicial custody on August 19.

On Sunday, she laid supine on a chattai, surrounded by her mother, father, neighbours, and acquaintances — but only another seven-year-old friend, sitting quietly by her — the priest’s other victim — could truly empathise.

The incident was discovered on August 18 — Janmashtami day. The priest — a trusted member of the girls’ village near Mehrauli for over a decade who had been repeatedly raping both girls for a week — tried to have penetrative sex with the eight-year-old child. Unable to endure any more traumas, the girl broke down and told her family everything.

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