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Goa govt launches inquiry into 'missing' rape victim

The Goa government has launched a high-level inquiry into the disappearance of a woman, who had accused Congress Panaji bypoll candidate Atanasio Monserratte of rape, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday.

He also said the "truth about the missing woman" would be revealed soon.

A 19-year-old woman, who had accused Monserratte of raping her in 2016, when she was a minor, has gone missing from a Rehabilitation Centre in South Goa since April 28.

"The government has initiated a high-level inquiry into the episode of the missing woman, and I am getting reports on a daily basis...Very soon, the truth behind the missing of the woman would be revealed," the chief minister told reporters.

Monserratte is contesting the upcoming Panaji bypoll on the Congress ticket against the BJP's Siddharth Kunkolienkar and Goa Suraksha Manch's Subhash Velingkar, besides others.

Sawant said the state government has launched a massive search operation to trace the woman.

"The woman was not in the custody of the state government. She was referred to a rehabilitation centre on the advice of the Child Welfare Committee constituted as per the court directives," he said.

He said he has asked the police department to give him daily report of its efforts to trace the woman.

The Congress has blamed the state government over the disappearance of the woman.

Goa-based NGO, Hope Foundation, whose one member is a witness in the case, told reporters on Wednesday that the state should provide protection to the witnesses.

"The witnesses in this case should be given protection. Efforts should be made to trace the girl as soon as possible," Andrea Pereira, director of the NGO told reporters.

She said the state government should question everyone, including the accused in the case to know the whereabouts of the woman.

Meanwhile, the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) demanded the resignation of the chief minister over his government's "failure" in protecting the rape survivor.

"We demand Sawant's resignation as he has failed to take any action in the case," GSM president Atmaram Gaonkar said.