At a time when authorities have promised swift action in crimes against women, inaction in a sexual assault of a six-year-old girl in Balgram SOS Village has laid bare the empty promises to punish perpetrators of this heinous crime.
Eight months after the minor was sexually assaulted inside the premises, the culprit is roaming free while the police, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and Balgram management are not even properly investigating the incident.
The girl was allegedly assaulted in the month of February, but till date no complaint has been filed by the CWC or by the Balgram management. Nor have the police, who were informed of the incident in June, taken proactive steps and conducted further investigations.
The incident came to light after a caretaker from the school informed a former Balgram inmate of the incident, who in turn brought it to the notice of CWC officials.
“A caretaker (referred to as ‘mother’ in Balgram) had witnessed a 14-year-old boy from Balgram sexually assault the girl. She reported the matter to the management, but they tried to suppress it, as it could have led to the closure of Balgram. She then apprised me of the incident during one of my visits there,” said the former inmate.
According to the inmate, the girl had been sexually assaulted on several occasions earlier, but the management have turned a blind eye to the issue. Meanwhile, CWC members are claiming that the process of filing complaint is ongoing, and soon they will register the complaint with the Yerawada police station.
“I constantly followed up the matter with the CWC and Balgram management, but it was not taken into consideration. When I forced CWC officials to do something, they took the first step and dispatched a letter to Yerawada police station,” said the inmate.
CWC officials said that they did initiate action, but accepted that there was a delay in pursuing the matter and lodging a complaint. A CWC member, on condition of anonymity, said, “The complaint will be lodged soon, as we are acting on the matter. We accept that there was a little delay, but we are constantly following up on the issue.”
Anita Vipat, another CWC member, said, “After we got to know of the incident, we informed the district women and child welfare office. We also sent a letter to the Yerawada police, asking them to investigate into the matter. We talked to the girl, but we also want to talk to her mother before filing the complaint. Within a few days, the complaint will be lodged.”
Yerawada police officials said CWC had not provided enough information for them to respond immediately. Kishor Jadhav, police inspector at Yerawada police station, said, “We received the letter from the CWC in the month of June, but the information in the letter is inadequate.
So we could not do anything. But, we did reply to them, asking them for detailed information on what exactly transpired. We also asked them to file a police complaint, so that we can begin the investigation procedure.”
When contacted, Kanchan Kulkarni, one of the workers at Balgram, said that she wasn’tthe authorised person to talk to. “Only the Balgram in-charge can speak to you, but he is out of country today,” she explained.