The girl was forced into oral sex by the man, but thanks to shoddy investigations, he was released in just 2 weeks; child's distraught mother now lives in daily fear for her daughter's safety
For the past month, a courageous mother has been living in defiance of her family, as she seeks justice for her nine-year-old daughter, who was allegedly forced into oral sex by an uncle. Shoddy investigations by the local police allowed the 21-year-old accused get bail after just a fortnight in prison.
While the young man walks free, the overwrought mother has been making the rounds of Vishnu Nagar police station in Dombivli, in hope that they will investigate the case. “He is roaming freely in front of my daughter, who is still traumatised. They have been giving excuses that I was way too late in approaching them to register an FIR.
The incident occurred in the month of January 2013, but I could gather the courage to register a complaint only in the month of May this year. Only I know how I have passed these one-and-a-half years, seeing the man walk free before my very eyes,” said the mother.
She added, “There was tremendous pressure from my in-laws, since the accused is related to them. But, one day, after watching a television show on child abuse, my daughter confronted me, asking why the man who abused her was not behind bars. Her words left me aghast.
How would I face her in the future? I made up my mind that I would take the first step to fight for her.” According to the 31-year- old mother, the incident took place on January 20, 2013 in their flat, when she was fast asleep.
The accused is a college student and stays with his family in the same locality. “Since I work night shifts, I was fast asleep that day. The accused took advantage of it and forced my daughter to have oral sex in the next room.
My traumatised daughter kept quiet for a week, but later gathered the courage and narrated the incident to her cousin, who, in turn, informed me,” added the distraught mother. Following this, the child’s father confronted the accused, who showed no sign of remorse. The woman has also alleged that there had been tremendous pressure on the mother-daughter duo from their family to make sure that the police did not get wind of the matter.
After struggling with her conscience, the woman finally resolved to take action and register an FIR at the local police station only to find that it would not be the last step she took towards getting justice for her daughter, but the first of many. On May 28, an FIR was registered and the youth was arrested. But, he was out of jail, roaming free, only two weeks later.
Shoddy police work
As per the FIR, the accused has been booked under sections 377 (unnatural offence) 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code, read with certain sections of the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. But, police action never went beyond the application of these sections.
Investigations done by mid-day have revealed that the cops did not bother to make the child undergo medical tests. In cases like this, the police are expected to produce the survivor before the Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of the FIR being registered. This rule, too, was blatantly ignored.
The justification given by the police for delay in registering the FIR does not hold water, as under the POCSO Act, sexually abused children can register such FIRs even after they turn adults — years after the incident has occured.
Sub-Inspector Priya Suryavanshi of Vishnu Nagar police station in Dombivli seemed to be unaware of the protocol to be followed in such cases. When mid-day confronted her about the shoddy investigations, she blamed it on the child’s parents.
“The family had not even allowed us to make inquiries with the neighbours,” said Suryavanshi. She seemed to be ignorant of the rule that demands that such cases are to be referred to the CWC, so that the survivor’s statement can be recorded. Based on the survivor’s statement, the investigations are to be conducted.
“The magistrate has recorded the statement in this case,” she replied. Suryavanshi also tried to pin the blame on the court, adding, “What can we do when the court has given him bail?” Meenal Thakur, chairperson of the CWC in Thane, told this correspondent, “It is mandatory for the police to produce the victim before us in 24 hours, after an FIR is filed.
Even if they delay it for the purpose of investigations, the least they could do is inform us about it and then bring her to us later.”