An Indian court has ordered the police to trace a model from capital Delhi and a teenage girl from neighbouring Nepal, who was allegedly raped by over 100 men – including police officers – in the western city of Pune.
The court issued the order after a lawyer representing both the victims said that they were untraceable since the past six months and expressed fears stating that they might have been killed.
"The allegations are of a very serious nature and we are concerned about the whereabouts of the victims. Make sincere efforts to trace them," a division bench of the Bombay High Court in the western state of Maharashtra told the police.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by a New Delhi-based advocate, which sought a transfer of the rape cases from the police to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – a domestic intelligence agency.
Kapur, who helped the victims file their cases, told the court that she feared the police officials named in the case and some of the accused were influential and could have got the victims eliminated.
The rape case involving the model first came to light in March 2016 when she was admitted to a hospital in the capital with burn injuries. She accused a man identified as Rohit Bhandari of luring her to Pune city on the pretext of getting her a job as an actress and raping her.
The 24-year-old model had reportedly said in her complaint that she was burnt with cigarette butts when she refused to get physical with him and was gangraped by him and some other men.
The victims claimed that she had met the 15-year-old girl from Nepal at Bhandari's home. The teen was brought from Nepal in 2014 on the promise of a job with a beauty salon, but was allegedly sexually abused for over two years. She was taken to various cities across the country where more than 100 men had raped her.
However, both the victims managed to flee to Delhi and on 23 March 2016 filed a case with the Delhi police, following which Bhandari (35) and four other accused were arrested, The Times of India reported.