Chennai: After 17 men — the staff of a posh housing society in Chennai — were arrested for allegedly raping an 11-year-old girl for weeks within the premises, about 250 families residing there are worried for the safety of their children.
The residents are horrified and feel betrayed, reported NDTV. But till the time they decide whether to replace the security agency or replace the staff, a group of eight women residents have started guarding the entrance of the block.
“They used to smile, salute and we trusted them. Plumbers had free access to our homes. Now we are scared. They can knock us down anytime. Earlier, we were concerned about danger lurking outside, now the danger is within,” said one of the residents to NDTV. “We need to install CCTVs everywhere and ensure that they work,” she added.
“No child is left alone in the block now,” said an elderly resident.
Meanwhile, the girl has been asked to be sent to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), by the Madras High Court.
A child rights activist told the judges that since the girl was raped for several weeks, she requires psychological support and counseling prompting the court to issue the direction. The court also pulled up the Chennai Police for violating norms and demanded to know why the girl wasn’t brought before the committee.
It’s not clear yet if the CWC would let the child be with her parents. The girl was allegedly sedated and given spiked soft drinks by the attackers, who included security guards, electricians and plumbers.
The 66-year-old lift operator was the first to assault the girl, the police said. He allegedly invited others, who filmed each other raping the child, and continued the cycle of abuse. The police say she was threatened and blackmailed with video recordings.
The accused allegedly took the girl to various places in the complex, including the basement, terrace, gym and public restrooms. Even though the complex has a network of CCTV cameras, many are out of order, which eventually allowed the perpetrator to pick uncovered areas for the planned assault, said police.
The girl finally informed about the incidents to her elder sister, who then told their parents and a complaint was filed on Sunday. The men were arrested the next day.
They were thrashed by lawyers and others when they were taken to court. Lawyers have also refused to represent the accused in court.