The offences were committed between January 29 and September 22
Thirty-three men have been allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl over the last eight months in the Indian state of Maharashtra, PTI reported on Thursday. The matter came to light on Wednesday night when the girl approached the Manpada Police in Dombivli city.
Twenty-six suspects have been arrested so far, ANI reported on Friday morning, citing Thane Police. Two minors have also been detained in connection with the incident, Additional Commissioner of Police Dattatray Karale told The Times of India on Thursday.
The offences were committed between January 29 and September 22, he added.
The police were looking for the other accused and a special investigation team has been formed to probe the case.
The main accused person is a friend of the girl. He had allegedly raped her in January and made a video of the sexual assault.
“He started blackmailing her on the basis of that video,” said Karale. “Later on, his friends and acquaintances gangraped her on at least four to five occasions at different places, including Dombivli, Badlapur, Murbad and Rabale [cities] in the [Thane] district.”
The matter came to light earlier this month after the girl told her aunt about the sexual assault.
“The girl’s aunt approached a local social worker and decided to nab the accused,” a police officer told the Hindustan Times. “On Wednesday, six of the accused called the victim to a lodge in Murbad. She shared her live location and her aunt informed us.”
The police initially arrested two men from the lodge. The rest were arrested after their statements were recorded along with the girl’s account.
The accused have been booked multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code, including rape, as well as sections of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act.
The girl has been admitted to a government hospital in Kalwa city. She is in a stable condition, said Karale.
Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the government should act expeditiously on the matter and punish the culprits.
This came at a time when the Maharashtra government is already facing criticism for the Saki Naka rape and murder case. A woman in her 30s was found injured and bleeding inside a tempo van in Mumbai’s Saki Naka area on September 10. She died on September 11 after being hospitalised in a critical condition.
In 2020, India's National Crime Records Bureau recorded 28,046 rape cases - or nearly 77 cases a day.