The mother of a minor raped at Balgram SOS Children’s Village, was in for a jolt yesterday, when the Yerwada police refused to share a copy of the FIR and medical report which proved that her child had been raped by another minor at the shelter.
The incident occurred on November 26 when the girl was takenaside by a 14-year-old boy on the pretext that he’d put covers on her books. The two remained in a room for more than an hour.
When a caretaker noticed that the girl was behaving strangely and asked her if everything was all right, the child narrated her ordeal. The matter was reported to the Child Welfare Committee and an FIR was registered with the Yerwada police.
The police registered a case of sexual molestation under section 354 (assault to outrage modesty of a woman) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and sections 3(c), 4, 21 of the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act.
After the medical report confirmed that the child had been raped, the police added charges of rape under section 376 of the IPC. When the mother went to the police station to read the fresh FIR copy, the police flatly refused her.
She said, “They were extremely rude to me and told me that my daughter was raped and not molested and the same had been confirmed after they received the medical report. I was shaken up and asked them for a copy of the FIR and medical report, but they simply said no to me.”
Not the first time
The woman also alleged that this was not the first time the child had been sexually assaulted. Narrating an earlier incident that the girl had told her about, she said, “It happened before Diwali as well and with the same boy. When my daughter brought this to the notice of the caretaker, she beat her up and asked her to keep quiet.” The mother herself had intimated the authorities, who had assured that it would be taken care of. But eventually, no action was taken. The letter written to the Child Welfare Committee (copy with MiD DAY) after the rape on November 26 also mentions this incident. Even when the latest rape incident surfaced, the institute authorities informed the mother about it, but insisted that they would be the ones to file the FIR. Consequently, in the FIR, there was no mention of the earlier sexual assault.
The mother feels that had the caretaker woman intervened in time, the second assault wouldn’t have happened. She wishes to file a case of negligence against the Balgram employee for not reporting the earlier incident. But the cops have proved to bea hurdle here too. “I wanted to register a complaint, but the Yerwada police refused to do so. I believe this was their attempt to safeguard the Balgram employee. But what about my girl, who is just eight years old and has to suffer from this trauma for her entire life?” grieved the mother.
The other side
Reacting to the allegation, Sub-Inspector R B Lokhande of Yerwada police station said, “We took the complaint from the caretaker when the incident took place, as the child was not with her mother.” Police said that if the mother filed an application asking for an FIR copy, they would provide her with the same. “She needs to give it to us in writing. It’s important for our procedure,” he added. When asked why he didn’t register the mother’s FIR of negligence against the Balgram employee, he said, “We can not register two FIRs for same offence.” On being asked if rape and negligence were the same offence, he clarified, “If negligence is proved during course of investigation, we may slap charges against the authorities.” It remains to be seen whether a investigation will be conducted over the alleged negligence, even though it is not a charge mentioned in the FIR.
Jyoti Pawar, an eminent lawyer said, “The police cannot bar the victim’s mother from lodging an FIR just because the children were not in her custody. The mother is natural guardian and no one can bar her from registering official complaint.” She added, “They should immediately register her complaint if she feels that the authorities handled the case negligently. The rape of a minor and negligence by authorities at Balgram are completely different. It’s an offence on the part of the caretaker to not take cognisance of the survivor’s complaints.”