The district court in Maharashtra’s Thane has acquitted a 25-year-old labourer in a case involving the rape of a 12-year-old girl after she remained untraceable. In his order on January 18, district and special POCSO judge PP Jadhav said the prosecution had failed to prove the charges under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act against alleged accused Rajendra Nishad.

Additional public prosecutor Vivek Kadu informed the court that the girl, a native of Uttar Pradesh, was living with her father and elder sister and they would earn their livelihood by dancing at weddings and begging.

According to news agency Press Trust of India, the girl ran away from home in March 2015, taking a train to Mumbai from Gorakhpur, and met the accused and his family en route, Kadu said.

Rajendra Nishad’s wife told the girl that her husband would help her look for a house, following which the accused managed to put her up in a flat in Bhiwandi town in Maharashtra’s Thane district, where he allegedly raped her on several occasions, Kadu told the court, Press Trust of India reported.

After she confided in a neighbour about the abuse, the girl was taken to the police station to lodge a complaint, but the accused, who was present there, threatened her, Kadu told the court.

The girl, who was initially placed in the custody of the Child Welfare Committee in Thane, was later sent to CWC in Uttar Pradesh, Press Trust of India reported.

In his order, the judge noted that even after giving ample opportunity, the prosecution had failed to secure the presence of the 12-year-old to depose as a witness. The court also observed that the medical evidence did not support the prosecution’s story.