Decades-old rape complaints still a challenge to investigate: Cops

Varun Grover was accused of misbehaving with an ex-student of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 2001.

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Decades-old rape complaints still a challenge to investigate: Cops


Tanushree Dutta's allegations of sexual harassment against Nana Patekar triggered India's #MeToo movement. Only later, the movement shifted its focus to editors, actors, and a minister, who were accused of sexual harassment and molestation. The movement also ignited a public conversation and found more women coming out to share their experiences of trauma, embarrassment, fear, and helplessness. While a section of the society stood by the victims, others questioned the validity of their accusations saying the credibility of such instances can't be cross-checked as they took place decades ago. Many people were of the opinion that even if a case is lodged now, the police will find it extremely difficult to investigate as it occurred a long time ago.

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While Patekar has been accused of sexually harassing Dutta during a shoot in 2009, writer Varun Grover was accused of misbehaving with an ex-student of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in 2001. Bollywood's 'sanskaari' father figure Alok Nath was accused of rape. The victim said the incident had occurred 25 years ago. After recently filing a closure report in Dutta's case at a magistrate court, a senior police officer, who was probing the matter, said this case was unique as the Force had to go back in time to dig out facts.

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"Indeed, it is our job to register a woman's complaint and start investigating. However, how to gather evidence and whom to bring in for questioning is a problem if the incident occurred years ago. Some of the witnesses don't turn up, others fail to recall and some don't co-operate at all. An allegation is very different from actual investigation. If we are probing a sensitive matter like rape or molestation, gathering both technical and circumstantial evidence is quite a challenge," the officer said.

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Supreme Court advocate Nitin Satpute further said that at times law does get misused and fake cases of rape are lodged. "Sexual consent is when two partners willingly establish a physical relation and sexual harassment is when someone deliberately forces the other for sexual favours. An accusation without a legal process is just an accusation. MeToo cases are hardly visible on paper. They are mostly doing the rounds on social media.

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Establishing rape also requires evidence approved by the Forensic Sciences Laboratory and if the police acquires enough proof to prosecute the accused then they should not leave loopholes," Satpute said.

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