‘I Told Her To Forget It All Like A Bad Dream,’ Says Father Of Minor Girl Rescued After A Month By Bihar Police
Dinesh Kumar Pandit wants his daughter, who was kidnapped in July and rescued on 18 August, to continue her education and move on with life.
A week ago, some fellow villagers came rushing to Dinesh Kumar Pandit’s home to show him a Facebook post featuring his missing daughter. The Facebook post showed the girl with the man who had ‘kidnapped’ her, a thick line of sindoor (vermillion) in her hair and a pendant of Ma Durga around her neck. She was faintly smiling in the post.
It had been about three weeks since Dinesh had seen or heard from his daughter. On 26 July, he was returning home with her from a market when a group of people emerged out of a Bolero car and kidnapped her at gunpoint — this was Dinesh’s statement to the police.
Based on this statement, a first information report (FIR) was registered on 30 July at the Bacchwara Police Station in Bihar’s Begusarai district. The man in the Facebook post, Izmul Khan alias Nazmul alias Aryan, was named as a key accused. Others accused of ‘kidnapping’ were named as Mohammad Munaffar Anjum Ansari alias Chand, Mohammad Narool Ansari and a woman named Farat.
Dinesh’s chilling statement that one of the kidnappers told him that “if it were Pakistan, he would have taken the girl from the house itself”, was reported by this correspondent and was picked up by local media later.
The post had been made from the account of Izmul Khan who, locals knew, used ‘Captan America’ as his Facebook name. They had been tracking it. The post was the first update on his account since the day of the kidnapping.
Izmul, as per Dinesh, is about 20 years of age while his daughter is a minor. Izmul lives in the same village — Bhikan Chak — as Dinesh’s family.
When this correspondent checked on 20 August, the post had been deleted but the account was active. It showed another post made about a week ago, that read (as translated), “You have the right to fight with me, but you have no right to leave me”.
There were three comments on this post. One Dharambir had written (as translated), “Come back home. Because of you, your brother and sister are in jail. The matter will be settled once the girl is back safe.” One Asif Aqbal had written (as translated), “Your family is very stressed because of you and have even gone to jail. Come back and surrender.”
A scroll down Izmul’s timeline showed a post from April that said (as translated), “Listen girl, I am not arrogant about money but about being a Muslim”. Another post made in the same month said (as translated), “Neither the government is mine nor I have influence. I don’t even have a big name. I am proud of only one thing — that I am a Musalman and my religion is Islam”.
Further down his timeline, a couple of posts are from December, that show Lord Ram with a bow and arrow, and Lord Shiva’s Trishul.
“My first reaction to the post that one of relief. I was relieved to see my daughter alive,” Dinesh told this correspondent on 20 August, two days after the girl was rescued by the police. On 18 August, a police team found her alone in a house in Patna city, which is about two hours of road journey from Begusarai, says Dinesh.
The raid was carried out the same day the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Begusarai, Awakash Kumar, was given an ultimatum by the national child commission that either the police find the girl or face action.
The commission had intervened in the case a day after the FIR was filed, based on a complaint filed by this correspondent.
Despite notices by the commission asking for an action taken report (ATR) in the case, the Begusarai police had not been responding. On 11 August, the commission sent summons to the Begusarai police chief to appear before it on 18 August.
When this correspondent called up the Bachhwara police last week to inquire about the progress of the case, an officer, Yashodanandan Pandey, said that the girl had “eloped” and it was a matter of “prem prasang”.
When this correspondent told the child commission chairman Priyank Kanoongo about it, he said that “everybody should work within the ambit of the law. Police’s job is to rescue the minor girl. They should do their job.”
Kanoongo took this up with the Begusarai police chief on 18 August.
“The commission advised the police to orient lower-level police officers and station house officers (SHOs) on laws related to children,” Kanoongo told this correspondent on 19 August after the girl’s recovery.
Dinesh says the Facebook post filled him with anger towards the police.
“Here was my daughter’s kidnapper updating his Facebook status and the police had been claiming all this while that they were trying but getting no leads,” he says.
“Obviously they were doing nothing.”
Dinesh says that when he met his daughter at the police station on the morning of 19 August (she had been rescued the previous day but kept in police custody), he asked her about the picture uploaded by Izmul. The girl told him that she had been made to get clicked that way under pressure.
“My guess is that the man was trying to assure us that his aim was not religious conversion. Perhaps he also posted the picture hoping it would get circulated in our area and sabotage my girl’s chances of marriage with a decent guy so that I eventually give in,” he says.
After his short meeting with his daughter, the police took her to the district magistrate for recording her statement under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and to the district hospital for a medical examination to assess sexual assault on her.
The formalities took an entire day and the girl finally returned to her home late evening. Dinesh says she has been constantly crying and hugging her mother, and telling him that she had tried to call him and even escape, but never got the opportunity.
As per Dinesh, she said in her statement to the magistrate that she was kidnapped and kept in confinement all these days, and that she was regularly given sleeping pills.
The medical report is awaited. If it suggests sexual assault, the accused could be charged for rape under POCSO or Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
Dinesh says he does not know whether any of the accused has been arrested yet.
When this correspondent called up the Bachhwara police on 19 August, an officer excused himself from speaking and said that only the Begusarai SP was authorised to speak further on the issue. Calls made to the SP’s number were answered by a person who said that the officer was on field and could not be contacted.
Dinesh says that the local police were initially hostile to him, accusing him of lying about the kidnapping and chiding him for taking the matter to the child commission. “Now they are being very cooperative,” he says.
About his daughter, he says the family isn’t asking too many questions from her yet. “We are just letting her rest and feel comfortable. I told her last night to forget it all like a bad dream and move on,” he says.
The girl appeared for her Class X exams this year. “I asked her if she wanted to study further and if I should get her admission in a new school for Class XI. She readily agreed,” he says.
“Some family members are saying I should marry her off next year, but I don’t want to do that. She is the youngest of my three daughters, and elder to two brothers. Both her elder sisters are married. I am in no hurry to get her married,” he says.
“I don’t even have enough savings for her wedding yet. This episode hit me financially too. I have not been able to go out for work since the kidnapping. Earlier, it was corona, now it’s this case. It’s only today that I have come out to work,” says Dinesh, who works as a ‘raj mistri’.
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