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Sunday, June 11, 2023

Schoolgirl gang-raped for months in exchange for drugs at Malappuram, befriended through Instagram

A young teenage girl was being raped over the past few months in exchange for drugs. The shocking incident occurred at a place called Kalpakancheri in the Muslim-majority Malappuram district of Kerala. Of the seven accused by the 14-year-old girl, only two have been arrested. Police identified the arrested as Muhammed Aflah and Muhammed Rafeeque who are both in their early twenties. The main accused in the case, a 30-year-old male is on the run.

The victim lives with her mother and a younger brother and her father works abroad. During the lockdown, she was gifted a mobile phone to pursue online classes and that is when her ordeal began. The main accused befriended the teen on the social platform Instagram.

It is alleged that the accused started chatting with her online and eventually started visiting her at her house, in the dead of the night. He also introduced her to drugs. The craving left the victim from a well-off family with no other option but to go with the flow. She used to open the doors to her house for the accused to enter after her family members were asleep.

After making sure that the girl had become an addict, the accused who was raping her by then started taking advantage of her by allowing his friends and acquaintances to rape her too. The accused would come at night, rape her and leave. 

The girl ultimately gathered enough courage and explained the ordeal to a relative of hers who in turn informed the authorities at Childline. The girl has also accused her tormentors of having threatened to kill her if she were to reveal the rape saga to the authorities. She has revealed that she was given ganja first, then hashish oil and cocaine, and was promised higher drugs of injection. The Childline authorities now suspect that there are several such victims who have been thus enslaved by the drug mafia. 

There are serious accusations of complacency against the police authorities in the district. They had gone slow on arresting the accused which allowed most of them including the main accused to go into hiding. 

As per law, the victim has to be immediately handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of the district voluntarily. The police failed to do so and ultimately the CWC had to ask them to do so. Media also accused the district police chief of not answering their calls.

The CWC Chairman, Shajesh Bhaskar was critical in his comments. 

“This is not an ordinary POCSO case. This is a case of extreme seriousness demanding serious and immediate intervention. I was shocked to see such a crime. Never before could we detect such a thing in Malappuram. The racket traps girls through Instagram, makes them addicts to drugs, and abuses them sexually,” said Mr. Bhaskar.

Apparently disgusted at the response from the police, he added that he would press the government and ask for the intervention of higher authorities in the probe. The teen victim is now under the protection of the CWC and is showing withdrawal symptoms. The accused have been charged under sections of POSCO, punishment for rape, and the penalty for providing narcotic drugs to a child. 

Local media barely scratched the surface in this case. Had this happened in UP and had the accused been individuals from the majority community, things would have been far different. Even the national media would have flown in from all corners of Bharat.

Another Instagram-driven racket was busted last year in Tamil Nadu where a gang led by engineering student Mohammed Mohideen was booked for blackmail and extorting money from women by threatening to expose their nude and morphed photographs on social media. In 2017, Ibrahim (22) posing as ‘Siva Idiot’ on Facebook lured a 13-year-old schoolgirl in Tamil Nadu into running away with him. He then proceeded to rape her in a friend’s motel, and later his friend too sexually assaulted the girl. Ibrahim was friends on Facebook with 5000 young girls and had assaulted other victims as well.

Many such predators roam the online social networks with impunity and unless they are reigned in by competent authorities the menace of blackmail, rape, and abuse of young girls will continue. More importantly, our police forces need to be provided proper training and have to be made more accountable while handling such POCSO cases. Certain regions of the country are emerging as hubs of all sorts of nefarious activities, and law enforcement needs to pay increased attention.

Parents and schools need to make children aware of the dangers of social media and both curb and keep tabs on their digital activities, without caving in to the prevalent winds of radical liberalism and individualism that condition teens with ‘my life, my rules’ type slogans.

This case is also reminiscent of the grooming gangs, consisting of mostly Pakistani Muslim men, that operate in UK and target vulnerable White girls for sexual slavery by hooking them on to drugs and alcohol. The same phenomenon has been observed in Bharat in form of grooming jihad (aka ‘Love Jihad’) where minor or otherwise vulnerable Hindu girls are lured into romantic relationships by Muslim youth, often assuming fake Hindu identities, and later pressurised or blackmailed into conversion and marriage. But just as the horrific Ajmer rape/blackmail saga from the 90s showed, grooming gangs (and not just individual groomers/Love Jihadis) operate in Bharat too.

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