NEW DELHI -- Women passengers were dragged out of their vehicles and allegedly raped in fields near the National Highway in Murthal, Haryana, reported The Tribune.
It's unclear if the incident, which happened early on Monday morning, was linked to the Jat agitation, which saw several violent incidents in Murthal and elsewhere in Haryana.
State officials have told their families to keep mum for "the sake of their honour" rather than helping them seek justice, Naveen S Garewal and Parveen Arora reported for the newspaper.
While the police are dismissing this as a rumour, eyewitnesses told The Tribune that at least 10 women were sexually assaulted in the early hours of Monday morning.
Witnesses said that survivors were told by “senior officers” not to pursue the matter because it would shame them, and “what had happened could not be undone”.
A senior IPS officer said this alleged crime was just a rumour, and advised the media against reporting matters that could create tension in society, The Tribune reported.
"Three women were taken to Amrik Sukhdev Dhaba and united with their families in the presence of senior police officers. They appeared lifeless. District officials who arrived there, instead of investigating the matter, persuaded the families to take the women home. Many were provided transport," an eyewitness told the newspaper.
The Tribune reported that at least 30 goons attacked commuters heading to the National Capital Region, and set their vehicles on the fire, but women who could not flee were pulled out, stripped and raped.
The newspaper further reported that these women lay in the fields until they were discovered by male relatives, while residents Hassanpur and Kurad rushed to bring clothes and blankets for them.
Jai Bhagwan, who runs a dhaba on the highway, recalled how some women hid in his dhaba to save themselves from the goons.
Village elders Hari Krishan of Kurad and Zile Singh of Hassanpur told The Tribune that they didn’t want to talk about the incident as “the police are sure to shield the criminals and nobody, not even the locals, are safe.”
Murthal, known for its highway restaurants, is a popular stopover for travellers on NH1, which connects Delhi to key cities in Punjab and Haryana.
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