They braved sexual torture which made headlines a few days ago. But now, the survivors of Karjat shelter home sexual abuse are being victimised by the police. Contravention of law and insensitivity in handling the case have traumatised these children further.
Activists have lamented the police insensitivity and demanded that the case be shifted outside Raigad district.
“Though the children have deposed before the Child Welfare Committee in the presence of the police, policemen are still knocking on the doors of the affected children. When they go unannounced to these children’s homes, they expose the family to the community, which then recognises the victim. Furthermore, the police make the children narrate the instances again and again, traumatising them. Also, they record the statements in the absence of a counsellor,” said Anuradh Sahasrabuddhe, director of the Pune-based Dnyan Devi-Childline.
The constant hounding of the survivors by mediapersons too has put the family members and the children under stress, activists said. “How did the journalists get the addresses of these children?” an activist asked.
The provisions of the new POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act make it clear that the police should record the statement of the children at a place convenient to the latter, and in the presence of a counsellor and/or people the children are comfortable with. The purpose of the legislation is to keep the privacy of the survivors intact, and to protect them from further trauma.
But at various stages of investigation, the police have blatantly violated the provisions of the POCSO Act. Initially, the victims and the accused were made to travel together in the same police vehicle during medical test and production before the court. Section 24(3) of the POCSO Act states that the police should ensure the victim does not come in touch with the accused during investigation and questioning.
The complainant, Childline, has claimed that though 10 children had deposed before the Child Welfare Committee, the police again approached at least six of them, without notice and a counsellor.
Raigad Superintendent of Police Ankush Shinde claimed that the police re-recorded the statement of only one accused. He said the police would from now on approach the affected children only when they were comfortable with them.
Maharashtra Director-General of Police Sanjeev Dayal said that he would look into the matter.