In a significant development, the Ujjain police have arrested an autorickshaw driver named Bharat Soni (24) in connection with the rape of a minor girl. The incident had garnered widespread attention after CCTV footage showed the young girl going door to door seeking help from people three days ago.
Following his arrest, Bharat Soni was taken to the crime scene. However, during this process, he attempted to flee, even pelting stones at several police officers before falling into a pit while trying to escape, according to Superintendent of Police, Ujjain, Sachin Sharma.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan expressed strong condemnation of the crime, asserting that the state government would ensure the strictest punishment for the accused. He added, “These kinds of criminals are not fit to live in society. He has injured the spirit of Madhya Pradesh. She is a daughter of Madhya Pradesh, and we will take care of her in every way possible.”
The police made the arrest based on a tip-off and have revealed that Bharat Soni has been named in two previous criminal cases. One case was registered in 2019 for rash driving and causing hurt, while the second case, registered at Nanakhekda police station, includes charges of obscene acts, voluntarily causing hurt, criminal intimidation, and acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention.
Additionally, the police have tracked down the girl’s family in Satna district and contacted her grandfather. The girl, who is currently recovering from her surgery, will be looked after by the Madhya Pradesh police, as a local police officer has volunteered to take care of her education and expenses.
SP Sharma stated, “The officer will adopt the girl. Her education and other living expenses will be taken care of…We will do character verification of all the autorickshaw and e-rickshaw drivers in Ujjain and create a database.”
The police had formed a 28-member team to investigate the case, reviewing over 1,000 CCTV footage, questioning more than 100 known criminals in the area, and interviewing rickshaw pullers, e-rickshaw and autorickshaw drivers, bus operators, as well as individuals at railway stations and bus stands.
According to the police, the incident occurred when the girl was wandering alone in the area, and Bharat Soni allegedly caught hold of her and sexually assaulted her. At least five auto drivers were initially detained, with one of them being booked for not reporting the incident after he provided the girl with a ride but failed to inform the police.
The girl’s grandfather, who had filed a missing persons report on September 25, stated that she went missing on September 24 while he was away grazing the goats, noting that she was mentally challenged and unable to identify her village.