Rathore 'abandoned' by his buddies

Rathore 'abandoned' by his buddies

Rathore 'abandoned' by his buddies

Even the official website of the Haryana police, which Rathore headed as DGP between October 1999 and December 2000, carries his photograph among the state's police chiefs but his bio-data has gone missing. A 1965-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, Rathore was convicted by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court here this month for molesting teenager Ruchika Girhotra in Panchkula Aug 12, 1990. The budding tennis player committed suicide three years later.

Rathore has been holed up in his bungalow in Panchkula's Sector 6 ever since he was convicted. With media OB (outdoor broadcasting) vans following each movement of his, Rathore and his wife Abha, a senior advocate at the Punjab and Haryana High Court and his counsel these 19 years, have kept to their home.

When they came out of court after Rathore's conviction, they had said they would go on appeal against it. Family sources said that the couple were in touch with senior lawyers in New Delhi to file the appeal. They are also contemplating seeking a stay from the court on media coverage of the case.

"The only time we saw a lot of activity at their house in recent days was when a posse of riot police arrived here to protect the house when candle-light marchers seeking justice for Ruchika came up to his gate. Otherwise not many people, except close family members, have visited him. It seems all his friends have abandoned him," a neighbour told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Rathore's house, number 469, is where Ruchika's molestation took place Aug 12, 1990. The house was under construction at that time and Rathore had got one room completed to set up the office of the Haryana Lawn Tennis Association (HLTA), which he headed.

The disgraced officer is facing a membership termination from two clubs - Panchkula Gymkhana and Panchkula gold club - after his conviction. A regular in golfing circles, Rathore was also known in Chandigarh and Panchkula's party circuit. Once a powerful officer who enjoyed patronage of four Haryana chief ministers - Hukam Singh (Lok Dal, 1990-91), Bhajan Lal (Congress, 1991-96), Bansi Lal (Haryana Vikas Party, with BJP support - 1996-98) and Om Prakash Chautala (Indian National Lok Dal, 1999-2005), Rathore had retired in March 2002.

Fellow officers and friends in the Haryana government and police now shy away when asked to comment about Rathore. "I had found him prima facie guilty for the molestation incident in my report submitted to higher authorities in 1990. No action was taken against him," said former Haryana DGP R.R. Singh, under whom Rathore was an inspector general of police. Singh had probed the Ruchika molestation case.

Rathore, misusing his official position, had harassed Ruchika's family and got 11 cases of car thefts slapped on her teenaged brother, Ashu, to pressure the family to withdraw the molestation case against him. Ruchika was expelled from her school, Sacred Heart convent in Chandigarh, apparently at Rathore's behest.

Ruchika, unable to cope with the pressure and constant harassment, consumed poison Dec 28, 1993, three years after the molestation incident. She died a day later. Tuesday was her 16th death anniversary.