Chandrakant Kavlekar: Election Commission should probe disappearance, appearance of rape victim

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Panaji, May 21 (IANS) The Congress in Goa on Tuesday demanded that the Election Commission should conduct a probe into the disappearance of a woman who had accused its poll candidate Atanasio Monserrate of rape in 2016, ahead of the May 19 Panaji Assembly bypoll and her sudden appearance a day after polling was held.

Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar also blamed the ruling BJP-led coalition government for trying to trigger a controversy over the mysterious disappearance of the rape victim who in 2016 had accused current Congress candidate for the Panaji Assembly bypoll, Monserrate, of raping her.

“We had a doubt about this disappearance case initially and we had expressed this at a press conference before the bypoll was held. The government was trying to unfairly raise this issue ahead of elections, but we had maintained that the victim would be traced soon after elections,” Kavlekar told reporters.

“The Congress demands that the Election Commission should conduct a probe into this whole affair and get to the bottom of how the victim mysteriously disappeared and appeared before and after the Panaji Assembly bypoll,” Kavlekar said.

On April 28, nuns who run the rehabilitation home in South Goa, had filed a missing complaint, after the victim disappeared, following which police had registered a First Information Report under section 362 (abduction) of the Indian Penal Code.

Monserrate was chargesheeted last year under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 506 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act after being booked in 2016 for allegedly raping the girl, who was a minor at the time, after drugging her.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant as well as BJP candidate for the Panaji bypoll Sidharth Kuncalienkar, without naming Monserrate, had hinted that the Congress candidate could have something to do with the disappearance, even as the Congress as well as Monserrate himself had blamed the ruling party for facilitating the disappearance of the rape victim.

The victim was traced by the police on Monday, a day after the Panaji bypoll was held, at the house of her female friend near Mapusa town, located a short distance from the state capital.

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