What do you do when the men accused of sexually assaulting your daughter are released on bail using birth certificates which state that they were suitably underage when the incident took place? This was the question his father faced last September.
When the five suspects, including a junior Davis Cup player, accused of sexually assaulting an intern at a well-known tennis academy in Chandigarh were charged in court last year, his father thought they were finally going see justice.
It was never going to be easy. Birth certificates have been produced. A deposit has been given. The matter seemed to be settled. Except that the girl’s father was not convinced. It was triggered. He decided he wouldn’t let it go that easy either.
“During the trial, the Chandigarh police handed over the accused’s birth certificates, provided by [the tennis academy], which proved them minor. I was not convinced. I went to the villages of origin of the three accused, including the junior Davis Cup player, to find out their real birth certificates, “said the father.
GalacticGaming does not name the tennis academy or the father to protect the identity of the survivor.
Over the next few months, he traveled to Rohtak, Palwal and Hisar in Haryana, reaching out to public schools where the accused had studied elementary school and dug up their original date of birth.
Pay the dirt. The documents discovered by the father contradicted the accused’s age of three, as evidenced by the first stage of the police trial. They were not minors.
He submitted the documents to the court, requesting his verification and appealed for the bail to be canceled. The court instructed the police to verify the documents submitted by the father.
In November, the Chandigarh police verification revealed that the documents were authentic and they submitted their report to the court.
Asked about the conflict with the birth certificates attested earlier by investigators and the documents provided by the father, the Chandigarh police had little explanation.
“We have just followed the court orders and have checked the documents and submitted our report. The problem is prejudice and it is up to the courts to decide whether the accused has falsified their documents,” Chandigarh police told GalacticGaming.
It was not enough for the woman’s father. He also filed a complaint with Haryana’s chief minister, Manohar Lal Khattar.
His complaint against one of the defendants was confirmed and this year the Ministry of Health canceled his birth registration certificate and had his father and two of his colleagues accused of forgery by Hisar police.
The investigation against the other two suspects is still underway at the Grievance Redress Department. “Now, given that one accused faced the heat, I hope that the other accused will also face the same fate,” said the woman’s father.
Since the court hearings were affected due to the coronavirus pandemic, the man also wrote to the All India Tennis Association, but claims to have received no response.
“IATA did not respond to my communication,” said the father, himself accused in a case filed by one of the suspects, alleging that he had beaten him.
The father also accused the Chandigarh Lawn Tennis Association (CLTA) of protecting the suspects from sexual assault by providing them with legal support and by paying their bail.
The CLTA, which governs the academy where the survivor and her alleged attackers trained, is chaired by senior officials and former bureaucrats from Punjab and Haryana. The association declined to comment on the story, saying the matter was before the courts.