Police thrash eight-year-old, Mayawati orders probe (Roundup)

February 3rd, 2009 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Lucknow, Feb 3 (IANS) Deaf to her cries for mercy, the police in an Uttar Pradesh village brutally thrashed an eight-year-old Dalit girl for allegedly stealing Rs.280.But the cameras were rolling and, as an outraged nation watched the brutality on TV, Chief Minister Mayawati Tuesday evening suspended a police official and ordered a probe.

“The state director general of police (DGP) will head the inquiry and submit a report within three days to the government,” Mayawati told reporters.

“No one is above the law. Those involved in the incident will not be spared,” she asserted, reading from a written statment.

In the shocking display of brutality, the police in Kailokhar village of Etawah district pulled Komal up by her hair, twisted her ears and rained blows on her inside a police station Monday.

Six policemen, including a district superintendent of police (DSP), a sub-inspector and a station house officer (SHO), have been punished for beating the girl.

Central Minister Renuka Chowdhury joined the chorus of protests.

“This is the saddest spectacle I have seen,” the minister for women and child development said at a press conference in New Delhi.

“Didn’t you get angry, watching a man in uniform ill-treat a small girl? Don’t you get goosebumps?” a livid Chowdhury asked at the Social Editors Conference.

As TV viewers watched the thin Dalit child dressed in bedraggled clothes being beaten up even while she was pleading that she was innocent, the police were forced into quick action.

Etawah’s district police chief K.S. Singh told IANS: “We have already placed Jaswantnagar SHO Chandrapal Singh under suspension. Another inspector involved in the incident has been dismissed.”

DGP Vikram Singh said he was personally “depressed” and sad about the incident and told reporters in Kanpur: “On my behalf, the Etawah SP (superintendent of police) must visit the girl’s family and apologise to them for the shameful act.”

Komal’s mother Ram Kali blamed the police of wrongly detaining and beating her.

She said she had given Komal Rs.15 to go to the market. But Komal returned home only late Monday with injury marks on her face and arms.

“Her hair had been plucked out from a number of places on her head,” Raj Kali said.

Giving his version of the events, SHO Chandrapal Singh said over telephone: “We were sitting in the police station when a young girl, aged 17 to 18, entered the police station with Komal.”

The girl, Anju, alleged that Komal had slipped away with her purse that was hanging from her cycle, Singh said.

“We frisked both Komal and Anju but did not find the purse,” he clarified, adding that Anju said in her complaint that the purse was handed over to a boy who had escaped.

With the incident creating ripples all over the country, there is likely to be more action against the police officials involved.

Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Brij Lal said: “Action will be taken against all the cops involved in the incident.”

A criminal case, including under provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, has been lodged against the two policemen.

Child rights activists condemned the incident and said instances of police roughing up children were a regular feature in the state.

“One police inspector was dismissed, two others involved in the incident were suspended. That’s it? The incident must have left such a deep scar on the young girl - they (authorities) must think of her rehabilitation,” Shanta Sinha, chairperson of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), told IANS.

Said Rakesh Senger of the NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan: “Hers is a fortunate case - it was caught on camera. This happens all the time, right here in the national capital. What can we expect from cops in a village.”

Under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, even if a minor child has committed a crime, the police cannot take any action against him/her. Any decision can be taken only when the child is brought to court in consultation with a Juvenile Justice Board or a child welfare committee.

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