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1992 Ajmer horror: Recalling India’s biggest rape and sex exploitation scandal

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Jaipur, July 05: A video of Ajmer Dargah Khadim Salman Chishti has emerged on various social media platforms wherein he has made an appeal to kill former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.

In the 2 minute 50 second-long video, Chisthi, a history-sheeter with more than 13 cases filed against him, including murder and attempt to murder, claimed that he would offer his house and property to anyone who "brings the head of Nupur Sharma". Alleging that Muslims were being persecuted and killed across the country, he said in the video that she had betrayed the pride of Khwaja Saheb and Mohammad Saheb.

1992 Ajmer horror: Recalling India’s biggest rape and sex exploitation scandal

The latest developments and news reports from the desert state once again brings back the chilling memories of 1992 Ajmer serial rapes, which involved hundreds of school children, a Chishti and some horrifying details of blackmail and sexual exploitation.

Ajmer 1992 serial rapes

In the nineties, one of the most horrific cases of gang rape in the country came to light from Ajmer. The scandal involved hundreds of young girls, some college students while others were still in schools. The news of the scandal broke after a local paper 'Navjyoti' published some objectionable photographs and a report which claimed that school students were being blackmailed by local gangs. The whole country was deeply shocked when the revelations were made.

The scandal started with Farooq Chishti, belonging to the Khadims of Ajmer Shairf Dargah, befriending a girl from Ajmer's Sophia Girls School and luring her into the trap. After taking inappropriate photographs he started blackmailing her. But she wasn't the first or the only victim of this notorious cycle. The gang continued to expand its operations and victimise an increasing number of girls.

Once details of the case were out in public, Ajmer was rife with rumours that a number of victims had committed suicide. People took to the streets, demanding justice, and communal tension grew.

The investigation of the case was stalled by police under political pressure as the main accused, Farooq Chishti, was the then president of the Ajmer Indian Youth Congress.

According to the police and women-focused NGOs, it was difficult to build a case against the perpetrators, as most victims were reluctant to come forward. However, the photographs and videos that were used to blackmail the victims helped identify the accused and build the case against them.

"The accused were in a position of influence, both socially and financially, and that made it even more difficult to persuade the girls to come forward and depose," says retired Rajasthan D.G.P. Omendra Bhardwaj, who was then posted as the deputy inspector general of police, Ajmer.

Eventually, 19 serial offenders were charged with abduction and gang-rape under the Indian Penal Code and Indecent Representation of Women (prohibition) in the court. Of the 18 accused, one has since committed suicide.

Eight were convicted for life and 4 among them were later acquitted in 2001.

In 2004, the Supreme Court dismissed both appeals filed by the state, as well as the convicts. A bench comprising Justice N Santosh Hegde and Justice BP Singh said "having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the view that the ends of justice would be met if the sentence is reduced to ten years rigorous imprisonment.

In 2007, a fast track court in Ajmer convicted Farooq Chishti, but in 2013, Rajasthan High Court deemed he had served 'enough' time and he was released.

30 years on, the infamous 1992 Ajmer gang rape case is an open wound even today, resisting cure or closure for the survivors and a slap in the face of judiciary.

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