Panel pulls up Delhi Police for gagging rape victims
The Delhi Police have not only got worst performance appraisals with regard to handling of crime against women but also received serious reprimand from Justice Usha Mehra Com-mission for suppressing rape cases reported from the lower strata of the society.
The commission, which looked into lapses by Delhi Police in the December 16 gang-rape of a 23-year-old student, submitted its report to the Union Home Ministry in February this year. The findings, which were made public recently, debunk the police claim that rapes could not be prevented as, in almost 98 per cent cases, the rapists are known to the victims.
The panel’s remarks came after analysing call record registers of Police Headquarters and control rooms of South Delhi and South-West Delhi districts as well as corresponding Daily Diary registers of police stations.
After pouring through thousands of mails it got, the Commission said policemen adopt “all tricks of the trade” to dissuade victims not to register complaints. Women are “harassed or forced to” tone down the gravity of offence or to compromise without registering an FIR and “emotionally blackmailed” by police, it said.
The laxity of Delhi Police in cases of crime against women was illustrated through instances of investigations into three telephone calls about rape, hours before and after the Delhi gang rape.
Mehra noted that a Delhi Police sub inspector “blatantly” lied during his deposition and tried to mislead the Commission on his response to two calls intimating rape of a six-year-old girl in a locality where people from lower strata lived. The crime took place five hours ahead of the gang rape.
Police received two calls from two separate mobile phones at 6:39 pm and 11:49 pm on December 16 about the rape of the girl. The investigation was entrusted to Sub Inspector Mahesh Bhargava soon after the first call. However, on December 17 early morning, the DD entry said that no such incident could be verified.
“This explanation, to say the least, rather compounds the apathy and irresponsibility and insensitivity of Delhi Police in caring for a child belonging to poor strata of society,” Mehra noted. The Commission felt that when the exact house number and mobile number was mentioned in the DD entry, it was the duty of the police officer to enquire thoroughly, but he failed to do so.
There was no record with police to prove that Bhargava went to the place to investigate the matter. Despite two calls, the Commission said, he did not go there to ascertain whether the calls were related to a single incident or not. In the DD entry, he also did not mention what he did with the two calls entrusted with him for investigation.
Bhargava took a “completely false stand” during deposition before the Commission saying that the two calls were related to an incident of sodomy for which a case was registered. But the Commission found that the sodomy case was mentioned in DD entry before the phone call on rape. The Commission also took note of the tardy investigation into another call at 1:15 am on December 17, which spoke about three men raping a woman in a bus and throwing her on road.
“The case was kept for verification on the grounds that they were unable to contact the husband. She was neither medically examined nor the vehicle was traced and culprits identified and arrested as required by the law. Aforesaid illustrations show that the perception of public at large regarding lack of sensitiveness and immediate response to the reports of sexual assault are not ill founded,” the Commission said.