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AGRA: Quentin Jeremy Clerc and Marie Droz were strolling around Fatehpur Sikri, happy that the weather wasn’t too harsh. They could stop thinking about heading back to Agra in their air conditioned taxi and instead walk around a bit more in the quiet fort city. Just then they noticed a few boys following them. What happened in the next half an hour would completely alter the way they had imagined their India vacation would end.
Five days after they attacked the young Swiss couple, both 24, three of the minors involved in the assault have now in an exclusive conversation with TOI given a chilling account of what happened that fateful day.
“We saw them first from a distance,” Mahendar (name changed as he is a minor) said as he was being taken to court along with the two others on Friday. “They were making some inquiries about Fatehpur which we didn’t understand properly. They were friendly. A little later we saw them getting intimate. For no reason, Pankaj (who is 19 and one of the two adults arrested along with the three kids) started assaulting them. We joined in.”
The version of the incident given by Clerc to TOI differs slightly here. He said the boys were following them and pestering them for selfies, especially with Droz. It was when the couple protested that the group got angry. He has denied the couple was seen kissing.
The youngest of the accused, 13, added, “One of the stones thrown at them missed the woman by inches. But the next one hit her and she started bleeding. The boy was already on the ground. One of the bigger boys had brought down a lathi on his head. We had no intention to hurt the woman, but when she intervened and tried to overpower us, we assaulted her as well. The assault continued for a while and they both were lying lifeless, not fighting back anymore. There was blood all over. We ran away. We came home and we started panicking, but we didn’t tell anyone about the incident. Some people, however, had already seen us beating the foreigners up.”
It was clear that all three had been crying, terrified of the cops around them and suddenly aware of the enormity of their crime. “It was a spur of the moment thing. We didn’t have any control on ourselves and attacked them for no reason,” the 13-year-old, who is in class VII at a local school, said. “We made the stupidest mistake of our lives and we want to apologise for hurting them.”
In BSc first year, Mahendra, who is 17, confessed that he was the first one to attack the tourists. “It was a foolish thing to do. I want to beg forgiveness from them as I started it. We thought that the couple was doing something which they shouldn’t. Something came over us and without giving a second thought I hit the Swiss man around his neck with a stick. During the assault, we also hit the woman.”
According to the trio, only four boys, them and Pankaj, were involved in the incident. They said police had wrongly arrested and booked the fifth, identified as Rahul, 19, the elder brother of one of the minor accused.
Apart from IPC sections 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 326 (Voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means),the five accused have also been charged IPC sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148( riot with armed deadly weapon), 325 ( Punishment for voluntarily causing grievous hurt) and 336 ( act of endangering life amd personal safety ), the five accused have also been charged under IPC sections 147, 148, 325 and 336.
ADG (Agra zone) Ajay Anand said, “After two days of investigation, police identified the five accused, including three minors and two adults. They attacked the Swiss couple near Tehara gate (in Fatehpur Sikri).”
The three minor accused have been sent to a juvenile home, the two adults, Pankaj and Rahul, are in judicial remand of 14 days.