Other States

Bhopal newspaper owner held under POCSO Act

The police on Wednesday arrested Pyare Miyan, a newspaper owner from Bhopal accused of raping minor girls repeatedly and running a sex racket. The accused was held in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir three days after the first case was registered against him.

“He was being tracked since yesterday (Tuesday). Our police have reached there and are questioning him,” Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra told reporters.

Miyan was caught in an operation in coordination with the local police in Srinagar, said Bhopal South Superintendent of Police Sai Krishna Thota, who’s leading a special investigation team set up on Tuesday to inquire into cases against the owner of the vernacular newspaper Dainik Afkar.

“We have secured a transit remand from a local court and are bringing him back,” Mr. Thota told The Hindu.

The 68-year-old accused faces four cases, including two relating to raping five minor girls. The other two cases relate to the seizure of fine alcohol and animal antlers from his apartment during a raid.

Miyan tried to evade the police, which had declared a ₹30,000 reward for information on him, by changing vehicles at different points, said Mr. Thota. “He jumped to different cities, changed vehicles and reached Srinagar,” he added.

The sex racket was exposed after the police on Sunday found five minor girls, reportedly in an intoxicated state, around 3 a.m. near Ratibad on Bhopal’s outskirts. They girls told Childline counsellors they were returning from a birthday party hosted by Miyan at an apartment, where he reportedly sexually assaulted one of them. Others later said he had sexually exploited them on previous occasions luring them with money, said the police.

A day later, another minor girl came forward claiming Miyan and an associate had sexually exploited her repeatedly two years ago, and taken her abroad on trips to Switzerland and Thailand, the police said.

During raids at his apartment in a posh locality here, Mr. Thota said, “child pornography on CDs and pendrives, sex toys, viagra and alcohol” has been found.

In the two rape cases, registered under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 besides provisions of the Indian Penal Code, three associates of Miyan, including his personal secretary and driver, and the grandmother of one of the minor girls rescued, who has been his domestic help for a decade, have been named.

Rubbishing charges against Miyan, his son Shahid told The Hindu, “My father is being targeted through a conspiracy hatched by a business rival. The truth will come out during the investigation.” He further claimed his father had actually surrendered to the police in Srinagar, and was not apprehended by them.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Commission for Protection of Child Rights has sought a reply from the Director General of Police on why Miyan, who reportedly appeared before the police hours after the girls were found on Sunday, was not arrested then. “This shows negligence on part of the police. Girls told us he came to the police the morning they were found,” said Brajesh Chouhan, a member of the Commission.

Miyan had arrived at a police post while the personnel were holding the girls for inquiry, said Upendra Jain, Bhopal Inspector General of Police. “He claimed to be their grandfather, pleading for their release but the personnel took them for questioning. By that time, the whole story was unclear. It took at least a couple of hours to inquire with the girls. He had absconded by then,” said Mr. Jain.

The State government has cancelled the accreditation of Miyan as a journalist and directed his family to vacate a government residence in the Professors' colony here.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:45:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bhopal-newspaper-owner-held-under-pocso-act/article32094228.ece

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