Navlakhi rape case: Police release revised sketch of suspects

Activists take out a rally in Ahmedabad on Monday to protest against increasing incidents of sexual violence. (Express Photo: Javed Raja)

Four days after a 15-year-old was allegedly gangraped by two men in Navlakhi ground in Vadodara, the city police released a revised sketch of the accused, on the request of the girl. The police suspect that the accused may be seasoned criminals based on their conduct, as they allegedly offered the girl a beedi after committing the crime for over half an hour.

DCP-Crime Jaydeepsinh Jadeja said that the victim is now “stable” and more cooperative and wanted to revise the sketch. Jadeja said, “We wanted the girl to relax and overcome the initial trauma and anxiety. Today she came forth and told us that she is feeling much better and wants to revise the sketch. She was able to describe the perpetrators better and she said that the new sketch is 95% similar to the accused.”

According to the police, the girl has said that the two accused were unfazed after committing the crime on Thursday night. Jadeja said, “She has told us that the accused were unperturbed and even offered her a beedi after committing the crime. They seemed to be extremely familiar with the routes inside the thicket as they instructed each other to carry her to the spot where they committed the crime. Their conduct seems to suggest that this may not be the first time they have done it.”

Revised sketch of the suspects in the Navlakhi gang rape case released by Gujarat police on Monday.

About 23 police teams are on the lookout of the suspects. “With the new sketch today, the search changes and it is a challenge for all the teams because this new sketch does not match the first two prepared by the police based on the description given by the girl and her friend. But she is in an extremely delicate state of mind as she is all of 15 and not even matured enough to have grasped important clues,” Jadeja said.

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Police said that the challenge before the teams is to track down the two men without even knowing if they have actually visited the scene of crime. “The area is so vast and dense with reptiles, including crocodiles, in the vicinity that even locals have told us they are not familiar with the route inside. When we went back to the place to reconstruct the crime scene on two occasions, the girl was unsure of the exact place because it is a maze. Most of our police officials also felt lost during the day,” Jadeja said.

The DCP also said that although the girl has described the accused, CCTV footage of the area from Thursday night has not been of much help as it was the night two days after new moon. “The night being just the second evening after new moon, there was complete darkness in the area. The CCTV has shown two men entering the area but the victim is not able to identify them. Even when the crime branch teams visited the area on the fourth day after the new moon, we could barely see each other,” Jadeja said.

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The police have also offered counselling to the victim and have requested citizens to refrain from misusing the sketches to defame people who could resemble the sketch without allowing the police to complete investigations.