Minor Bengal Girl Rescued From Trafficking Is Stuck In Delhi Shelter Home For Eight Months. Who Is Responsible?
Chairman of the child commission says both the Bengal police and the Delhi government have failed in their responsibility to shift the girl to her parents’ home in Bengal.
A minor girl kidnapped from West Bengal and brought to New Delhi for trafficking was rescued by the Delhi police in April. Eight months later, the 16-year-old continues to stay in a children’s home in New Delhi instead of her parents’ house in West Bengal.
When told about the matter, chairman of the national child commission said to this correspondent that shifting the child to her parents was a responsibility of the Delhi government as well as the West Bengal police.
The girl’s father told this correspondent that he had been too ill all these months to come to Delhi to take his daughter back. The father, in fact, called up this correspondent on 16 December to request for some monetary help so he could book the train tickets to Delhi for next week.
The case exposes the failure of authorities in following child protection guidelines. Recently, about 45 girls lodged in various children homes in Delhi were shifted to their hometowns in Jharkhand, two years after their rescue from trafficking gangs.
The Case Of The Bengal Girl
The girl, a student of Class X, lived with her parents in a village in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.
The family belongs to the Poundra community, which is a Scheduled Caste.
She went missing from home on 29 February. On her father Kamal Mondal’s (name changed, surname intact) complaint, a first information report or FIR (number 592/2020) was registered at Barauipur Police Station on 2 March.
Swarajya had reported in May that the girl was about to be sold to a trafficker in Rajasthan when the Delhi police, acting on directions of the child commission, posed as citizen volunteers distributing free ration for lockdown, and carried out a raid in Khajuri Khas area to rescue the girl.
The kidnapper, Mohammad Salauddin, was arrested. However, he got prompt bail.
Priyank Kanoongo, chairman of the child commission, told this correspondent in June that it happened because the Bengal police had registered the FIR on weak charges. The police had only applied IPC section 363 (kidnapping) where as they should have invoked POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) and added section 370 (trafficking of minors) at the time of filing the FIR, Kanoongo said.
Who Was Responsible For Taking The Girl To Her Parents?
When told about the case on 17 December, Kanoongo told this correspondent that both the Delhi government and the West Bengal police have erred in following due process.
“I recall that the accused [Salauddin] was brought before the magistrate on the charges of kidnapping and was granted prompt bail. Instead, the Bengal police should have immediately applied for transit remand of the accused after his arrest [to shift his custody from Delhi police to Bengal police], but did not do so citing lockdown,” Kanoongo said.
The Delhi police, on its part, should have got the girl’s statement recorded with the concerned district child welfare bodies and officials in front of the magistrate, Kanoongo said.
"The concerned district child welfare committee (CWC) and child protection officer should have accordingly directed the police to take the girl to her parents in Bengal. There is a dedicated battalion in Delhi police to carry out this task,” he said.
There is a well-laid out process for such cases. Even the railways don’t charge for the ticket for such journeys, he said.
Kanoongo further said that in several cases, the police fail to record the victims’ statement due to minor procedural issues such as unavailability of a translator.
“We will find out if that happened in this case, but many a time, the police don’t understand the regional language of the victims and delay recoding their statement for want of a translator. Such cases often go to back-burner and forgotten for months, sometimes even years,” he said.
The same procedural delay was seen in the recent Jharkhand case where the girls’ statements could not be recorded for months as the police did not find a translator for Santali language, said Kanoongo.
“But of course, delay happens because concerned officials don’t treat such matters as high priority. Otherwise, how difficult it is to find a Bengali translator when the Bengal government has so many advocates working in Delhi courts?” he said.
The chairman said he would take cognisance of the Bengal case now that it has come to his notice.
Father Was Too Ill And Too Poor To Fetch The Girl Himself
The case came to the attention of this correspondent on 16 December when the girl’s father Kamal Mondal called up. A poor daily wager, he wanted to know which railway station is nearest to Dilshad Garden. During the conversation, he mentioned that he was short of money to book the tickets. Kamal said that he received a call from Delhi a week ago. The person on the line said that she was calling from Sanskar Ashram in Dilshad Garden and Kamal should come to Delhi to take his daughter back.
The ashram is run by the department of women and child development of the Delhi government.
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