BHOPAL: A 43-year-old woman was raped inside a minibus in the heart of the state capital at 10:30pm on Wednesday.
There were no passengers in the bus, barring the woman when she was sexually assaulted. Prime accused bus conductor and his two accomplices — the driver and another man — have been arrested. Though it seemed a re-run of the Delhi Nirbhaya incident that triggered nationwide outrage, city police tried to downplay it by saying the crime was not committed in a moving bus.
The woman was returning from her parent's house in Nariyal Kheda to her home in Govindpura. She came in an auto from Nariyal Kheda to Nadira Bus stand. From there she boarded a minibus with registration number CG17-F-0197 for Pul Bodga — the last stop. She was supposed to go Govindpura by another mode of transport.
When the bus neared Pul Bogda, she tried to get down but was stopped by the driver, conductor and the third accused. They asked her to wait till they turned the bus at the crossing.
Instead of slamming on brakes, the driver sped the minibus towards Maida Mill. Bus conductor Deepak Sharma, 32, a native of Raisen and a resident of Jehangirabad, was sitting in the rear while the woman was on a front seat. As soon the as the bus reached Maida Mill, Sharma overpowered the woman and raped her.
Later, the rape survivor lodged a case at MP Nagar police station. The woman, a mother of six, managed to remember the registration number of the bus and this helped police to trace the accused.
She told police that another man muzzled her while the conductor was in the act. The two were waiting for their turn when she wriggled out of their clutches as bus gate was open. Police, however, said only the conductor raped her while two others were waiting outside.
The other accused was the driver, Salman, 24, resident of Aishbagh and a third, Raju, 35, who was a driver for the second shift.
Police said they are verifying criminal records of the accused and whether the owner had done a verification. The survivor was taken for medical examination. Besides the conductor, two others were made accused as they acted as accomplices. The accused went to Barkheda area refuelled and cleaned the bus.
Madhya Pradesh has the shame tag of India's rape capital with 13 women being raped on an average every day, according to 2014 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. The state recorded 5,076 rape cases last year.