Six schoolgirls jump off speeding truck in Gujarat after driver, other occupants try to molest them

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Six minor schoolgirls in the age group of 15-17 years jumped off a speeding pick-up truck after the vehicle’s driver and five other occupants allegedly tried to molest them in Gujarat’s Chhotaudepur district, police said on Wednesday.

The truck went off the road and overturned as the driver, Suresh Bhil, lost control over the wheels when the girls started jumping off in a frantic attempt to save themselves from molesters on Tuesday evening, said district superintendent of police (SP) Imtiyaz Shaikh.

One of the accused, the vehicle owner, has been arrested, while the girls received minor injuries in the incident, he said, adding the truck occupants also snatched cash and belongings of the victims.

Following the incident, which took place on an internal road in Sankheda taluka of the district, police have lodged an FIR under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act) and also on charges of robbery and molestation under the IPC against six persons, including the driver, Mr. Shaikh said.

One of the accused men, identified as Ashwin Bhil, was arrested from the spot after the accident, while five others were yet to be nabbed, stated the police officer.

The five other accused were identified as Suresh Bhil (driver), Arjun Bhil, Paresh Bhil, Sunil Bhil and Shailesh Bhil, said the SP.

According to Mr. Shaikh, the girls are residents of a village in Sankheda taluka and study in a school situated nearly 5 kilometres away from their home.

“On Tuesday evening, they sat in a pick-up truck to reach home after finishing their school. On the way, driver Suresh and other men, who were already in the vehicle, started harassing the girls and tried to molest them. The men even snatched their belongings and cash. To save themselves, these girls jumped off the speeding vehicle,” said Mr. Shaikh.

“The vehicle then turned turtle after the driver lost control over it. The accused took advantage of the situation and fled the spot. However, one Ashwin Bhil, who owns the vehicle, was nabbed from the spot in an injured state. The girls, who received minor injuries, were referred to a nearby hospital for treatment. They all are out of danger,” said the SP.

Based on a complaint by one of the victims, a 17-year-old girl who was the eldest among them, the police lodged an FIR on Tuesday, he added.

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