PUCL Bulletin, June 2001

Role of a state official in a rape case condemned

Insaaf International strongly condemns the role of Chairperson, State Commission for Women, Ms. Surinder Kaur Grewal in case of torture of a rape victim by Patiala Police.

According to media reports a 14-year-old girl was allegedly abducted, tortured, and raped for six days by the Patiala police by giving electric shocks behind her ears. The victim and her family ran from pillar to post, met police officials and Chairperson Punjab State Commission for Women to get justice. Unable to get any justice from them the victim tried to meet the Chief Minister, S. Parkash Singh Badal at Sangat Darshan held at Samaana on 30.4.01. She was refrained from meeting the Chief Minister by the Chairperson and police officials present at the venue of Sangat Darshan of Chief Minister. The victim was escorted back to her residence in a police gypsy. The Chairperson confirmed that the minor victim had clear torture marks behind her ears. It is shocking that she found it sufficient only to reprimand the police officials for this barbaric act. Strangely enough, the Chairperson defended the police for not having allowed the girl to meet the Chief minister by saying that that would have sensationalised the case.

This episode puts a question mark on the credibility of a statutory Commission entrusted with protection of human rights by the government. It also exposes the political drama of Sangat Darshan by the Chief Minister. The courtiers properly screen the people before allowing them to meet the chief minister for this publicity stunt.

Insaaf demands immediate registration of criminal cases against guilty officials. Insaaf has sent copies of the newspaper cuttings to the National Human Rights Commission, National Commission for Women, Chief Justice Supreme Court, Chief Justice Punjab and Haryana High Court, Home Minister of India and various National and International human rights bodies.
The press in Punjab has extensively reported the case. The Tribune reported as follows: The family of the victim, which had earlier approached state Women Commission chairperson Surinder Kaur Grewal, alleging that the Patiala police was not giving them justice and had given electric shock to the girl behind her ears, was refrained by Ms Grewal and other police officials at Samana, from complaining the matter to the Chief Minister.

Ms Grewal, when contacted in this regard today, said: "I severely reprimanded the police officials on the spot as torture marks behind both ears could be seen clearly." She said she had directed the SP (Detective) to ensure justice was done to the girl. The fault lay with junior police officials who did not act properly even though those at the helm in the district had good intentions, she said, adding that she did not want to sensationalise the matter by going to the Press as the girl's future was at stake.
The SP (Detective), M.S. Chahal said he would start investigation in the case tomorrow and had called the family of the victim in this regard. He said now that the case was with him, he would ensure justice to the aggrieved party and anything found wanting earlier would be removed immediately. When asked about the illegal manner in which the victim had been given electric shock as alleged by the family, he refrained from giving a direct reply, saying that he was yet to clear this fact and had not been able to talk to the officials concerned. He, however, added: "Now that the case is with me, I will definitely do something in two days".
He said he had given a similar assurance to the Women Commission chairperson. The girl and the family were escorted back to Patiala in a police vehicle only after being assured that they would be given justice.
For the family of the girl, however, all has been lost. Narrating her tale of woe, the victim said she was abducted on April 11. A boy living in the same locality came to her house and told her that her elder sister had rung up from Mumbai. She said though she was reluctant to go as her parents were not at home, she was persuaded by him. On reaching his house she was given a glass of water following which she fell unconscious. She said when she regained consciousness she found herself in a room on the top story of the house. She was repeatedly raped for six days in the house before she managed to escape on April 16.
The girl's father, who works in a wire factory nearby, said though an FIR was registered in the urban state police post and a medical examination of the girl was conducted, the police after taking initial action in the case started shielding the accused. -- Dr. Vineeta Gupta, General Secretary, Insaaf International, Bhatinda, 2.5.01

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