Maneka responds to mail on sexual assault on minor

Maneka responds to mail on sexual assault on minor

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi. DH File photo

If not for the swift response from Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi, a sexual assault on a minor in Puttur would never have come to light.

On November 16, 2018, one Muneer Ahmed from Pandeshwar approached Pandeshwar police station to file a complaint against his first wife and her husband for solemnising the marriage of his biological daughter in Mani near Puttur. The minor girl was aged 16 years.

Ahmed had alleged that (as he was opposed to the marriage) he was kidnapped and forced to participate in his daughter’s ‘nikah’ performed at the residence of a ‘moulvi’ in Mani with only few people attending.

“I was kidnapped because my presence was mandatory for my daughter’s nikah as per my religious tenets,” Ahmed had claimed. But the Pandeshwar Women’s police station, the jurisdictional police station in Bellare and Women’s police station in Pandeshwar refused to accept his complaint.

“Due to pressure from politicians, even the district child protection unit (DCPU) ignored the complaint from the father,” sources in district childline told DH. But Ahmed’s second wife Begum refused to give up and wrote letters to all departments concerned.

Maneka’s intervention

The letter not only highlighted the minor’s nikah but also accused the foster father of sexually assaulting his step-daughter. “Only Maneka Gandhi responded to the email and directed DCPU to register the case under Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006,” sources in district childline said.

Puttur Child Protection Officer Shanti Hegde confirmed receiving an order from DCP Officer Usman on registering a case under the act. “I forwarded the order to women’s police station in Puttur, which registered a case under the Act,” she said. Though the case was registered on December 6, 2018, no arrests were made.

Confirmed assaults

The biological father Ahmed’s worst fears came true with the medical reports received by Puttur women’s police station a few days ago, confirming that the minor was sexually assaulted.  Puttur Women’s police station Sub Inspector Sesamma initially denied having received the medical report confirming sexual assault.

She claimed that no arrests were made as the victim had refused to give a statement against her foster father. “The marriage did not take place. The moulvi (the nikah took place in his house) and the bridegroom (now in Dubai) were not arrested,” she added.

District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) President Rennie D’Souza said he was unaware of the medical reports confirming sexual assault on the minor. The police had informed us that a case was registered under Prohibition of Child Marriage Act after the intervention of Union Minister Maneka Gandhi. “I will seek a report from the women’s police station,” he said.

Fresh statement

SP B M Laxmi Prasad told DH that due to the twist in case, a fresh statement would be obtained from the victim under the section 164 CrPC and the statement would be recorded by a magistrate.

“The victim, in her previous statement had denied that she was sexually assaulted by her step-father,” the SP informed.