A 12-year-old rape survivor in India went door-to-door seeking help but was shooed away, according to eye witness reports and security footage circulating on social media.
The incident in Ujjain city in Madhya Pradesh has led to widespread political outrage across the country, but 72 hours after it came to light police have yet to make any arrests.
In the video the child can be seen asking for help from a man standing outside his home, but is turned away. The girl, who appears to be bleeding, eventually faints.
A case has been registered under India’s stringent laws against child sexual abuse, known as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, and a special investigation team has been set up to probe the matter, said police official Sachin Sharma.
The officer, however, disagreed with the allegation that locals refused to help her, saying some gave her money – though some reports suggest this only amounted to a total of Rs 120 (£1.2).
“There were mixed responses. People in the localities she passed through had helped her. Some gave her Rs 50, others gave Rs 100. She crossed a toll booth on the way. The staff there gave her money and some clothes. At least 7-8 people tried to help,” Mr Sharma told NDTV.
“People may have had reservations. But financially, they tried to help her as much as they could,” the officer told the outlet, on being asked about the child’s need for medical attention.
He claimed she was not asking for help, but telling people that someone was following her. “In the statements we have recorded, people have told [us] that she was repeatedly saying, ‘I am in danger, someone is behind me’. So she was not stable, people responded accordingly,” he said.
The girl finally received help from a local priest, who gave her clothes and called the police.
“The medical examination has confirmed rape. We have formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and are closely following this. We appeal to the people to inform the police if they get any information,” Mr Sharma told The Indian Express.
The girl was transferred to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College where surgery was performed on her and a blood transfusion done, the dean of the hospital, Sanjay Dixit told The Times of India. “It will take time for her to recover,” he said. “She is out of danger.”
Kamal Nath, the opposition Congress party’s state chief, demanded the child be given financial assistance of Rs 10 million (£98,496) over the “heinous crime” against her.
“It is heart-wrenching to see the case of extremely cruel rape of a little girl in Ujjain. The kind of heinous crime committed against the 12-year-old daughter and the way she ran around in many areas of the city in a semi-nude condition and before falling unconscious on the road, puts humanity to shame,” Mr Nath said on his official X/Twitter account on Wednesday.
The BJP has said that strict action will be taken against anyone found guilty in the case.
“We have come out with capital punishment for heinous crimes against women. This incident is unfortunate but the accused will not be spared,” said the party’s spokesperson in the state, Rajpal Singh Sisodia.