The squandering of precious time by the Delhi Police in the two days preceding the discovery of the five-year-old girl, who was held captive, brutalised and subjected to unnatural sex by a neighbour at Gandhi Nagar in East Delhi, was revealed in a conversation The Hindu had with a member of the girl’s family on Friday.

Recalling the sequence of events, the girl’s uncle said the family members had frantically begun scouting around for clues as soon as she went missing late on Monday. “We then went to the police station to lodge a complaint. But we were made to sit at the police station from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Although they registered our complaint, they showed no hurry in launching a search operation for our girl. Instead, they asked us to contact them the next day. They also asked for her photograph,” he said.

The police said the case was registered one-and-half hour after the incident was reported by the girl’s mother. “When she went missing, her father was not around. He works as a part-time farm labourer in Punjab,” said her uncle.

The family then provided the girl’s photograph to the police. “We went to the police station with the photograph, but were initially told that the officer concerned was not there. We were made to sit at the police station from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and nothing concrete was done to look for the girl. They did not even search the building where we live, which is shocking,” said the uncle, adding that it is a five-storey building with almost 40 rooms housing many tenants.

After the girl’s father learnt about the incident, he returned to his residence in Gandhi Nagar around 4 a.m. on Wednesday.

“The same day around 6-30 a.m., some tenants living on the ground floor heard the girl’s cries from a room and alerted us. We broke the lock and found the girl lying there in a horrifying condition. There are no words to describe what we saw,” said the uncle. There were ligature marks around the victim’s neck suggesting that an attempt was made to kill her.

The family members immediately informed the police. “However, instead of rushing to the spot, they asked us to come to the police station from where they escorted us back to the house and then the girl was taken to hospital in a police vehicle. Precious time was wasted,” alleged the uncle.

“On Thursday evening when the girl’s parents were in the hospital, a policeman in uniform accompanied with a man in plainclothes approached them. They took them outside and then the policeman slipped Rs.2,000 into the pocket of the girl’s father, asking him not to share the incident with anyone. He also threateningly told the father that it was the police which would ultimately come to their help, and not others,” the uncle added. Stating that a vigilance inquiry has been initiated into the allegations and a report sought with 24 hours, the police on Friday said they conducted searches and raids in East Delhi. Pending inquiry, Gandhi Nagar Station House Officer Dharam Pal Singh and Investigating Officer Mahavir Singh have been suspended.

“The girl was rushed to Swami Dayanand Hospital, where preliminary medical examination confirmed that the girl had been sexually assaulted. Her condition was reported to be stable after a surgery on Friday morning,” said a police officer, adding that all efforts were being made to arrest the accused.

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