Maharashtra minister orders probe into assault on scribe

March 2nd, 2008 - 9:09 pm ICT by admin  

Akola (Maharashtra), March 2 (IANS) Maharashtra Deputy Chief Miniter R.R. Patil Sunday ordered the state Crime Investigation Department (CID) to probe the murderous assault on a journalist who had exposed a sex racket here allegedly involving several government officials, including those in the police. Announcing this to local journalists on a sit-in protest against the assault that took place Friday midnight, Patil said he hoped the unidentified assaulters of the reporter, Avinash Raut of the Marathi daily Deshonnati, would be apprehended soon.

Patil, who holds the home affairs portfolio, also assured the protesting journalists that those guilty in the sex racket Raut exposed would be dealt with sternly once the CID completes the investigation.

Raut had exposed the sex racket last month after its alleged victim, an 18-year-old college girl, told the sordid story of her yearlong exploitation. She also gave Raut a copy of her affidavit narrating the story.

A group of six to seven hoodlums severely beat up Raut after throwing chilly powder in his eyes Friday midnight when he was returning home from office.

They then tied him to a tree, torched his motorcycle and poured kerosene on him apparently with an intention to set him on fire.

The assailants fled the scene when a passerby saw Raut’s parked motorcycle burning and called some people from a nearby petrol pump to the spot, the reporter told police.

Raut, who was kept in an intensive care unit of the Akola General Hospital after the incident, was shifted to a private hospital in the city Sunday where his condition is stated to be stable.

The victim of the sex racket in her affidavit has named some government officials, including those in the police department, and some influential people in Akola and other cities as her tormentors.

She is believed to have maintained all her allegations in statements made before the police and a magistrate.

A state CID team led by Superintendent of Police Vasant Pardesi is conducting a probe into the scandal.

The girl in her affidavit stated that many girls like her were being exploited in the racket. Deshonnati Akola resident editor Shrimant Mane told IANS that five girls have already approached the newspaper expressing their willingness to relate their plight in sworn affidavits.

While the main accused, Nitu Takvat, who allegedly operated the racket, hurt herself in the police custody, it was said her neighbour and alleged accomplice Shalu was seriously assaulted by her paramour a day before the CID team was to record her statement.

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