‘She Eloped’. Bihar Minor Girl’s Kidnapping Shows Yet Again That Police Need Lessons In POCSO Laws Urgently
A 15-year-old minor Hindu girl was allegedly kidnapped by a group of Muslim men and women on 26 July.
The police have not rescued the girl till date and are even calling it elopement.
This correspondent reported a case in July where a Muslim gang kidnapped a minor Hindu girl at gunpoint in Bihar’s Begusarai district. Father of the 15-year-old girl, who was walking towards home from a market with her when the incident took place, said in his statement to the police that the kidnappers told him that had it been Pakistan, they would have taken the girl from his house itself.
Below is the statement of the father as recorded in the first information report (FIR) filed at Bacchwara Police Station on 30 July (number 158/2020).
The key accused, Izmul Khan alias Nazmul alias Aryan, is from the same village as the girl — the village’s name is Bhikan Chak — and is known to the girl’s father.
The National Child Commission took cognizance of Swarajya’s report and, on 31 July, sent a notice to the Begusarai police chief to act in the matter and give an action taken report (ATR) in three days.
Nearly two weeks have passed, but the girl remains missing. The police have neither responded to the commission nor found the girl.
When this correspondent called up the Bacchwara Police Station on 11 August, the station house officer said that investigation is on, the accused’s family has locked their house and left the village, and there have been no leads in the case so far.
Then, he said something that perhaps explains why the girl has not been rescued yet.
The officer said that the matter is about a love affair and the girl has not been kidnapped but has eloped with her boyfriend.
This correspondent has a recording of the conversation.
“Ye prem prasang ka maamla hai. Ye ladki pehli bhi iske saath apattijanak haalat mein pakdi gayi thi. Panchayat hui thi, fir maamla thanda pad gaya tha. Is baar dono bhaag gaya hai (this is a matter of love affair. The girl has been previously found with the man in an objectionable situation. A panchayat was held, but the matter cooled down. This time, both have run away),” the officer, who introduced himself as Yashonanandan Pandey, said.
He further said that it is “not a Hindu-Muslim matter” and the case is not as big as it is being made out to be.
This correspondent has reported on various occasions in the past that the knowledge and implementation of the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act remains abysmally low at the police’s end.
Whether out of ignorance or a lackadaisical approach to performing its duties, the police repeatedly fail to invoke it in crucial cases. This correspondent has shown through several reports that it is particularly so for cases where the kidnapper is an adult Muslim and the girl is a minor Hindu. (Read this, this, this and this).
The law treats anybody below 18 years of age as a minor. Their elopement is treated as kidnapping by the person he or she has eloped with.
However, so rampant is the ignorance about it among the police that even a senior officer like Delhi superintendent of police (outer district) Seju P Kuruvilla made the same mistake in a 2018 minor Dalit girl’s trafficking case. He was even pulled up by the National Commission of Scheduled Castes for it.
The commission, during a hearing of the case, told the Delhi police chief that it took grave objection to the fact that when it contacted Kuruvilla to inquire the status of the case of the missing minor Dalit girl, the latter said the girl had eloped on her own will. The commission called Kuruvilla's statement "highly regrettable and irresponsible".
The statement of the Bacchwara Police Station in-charge is no different. When told about it, the chairman of the child commission Priyank Kanoongo told this correspondent that the commission has issued summons to the Begusarai police chief in the case as they have not received the action taken report as demanded.
About Bacchwara SHO’s statement, he said, “everybody should work within the ambit of the law. Police’s job is to rescue the minor girl. They should do their job. If they don’t, the commission will take strict action against them.”
A copy of the summons is attached below:
Meanwhile, the girl’s father Dinesh Pandit told this correspondent that the police have made no efforts to rescue the girl.
“They did not even question the man’s family strictly. They have been soft on them. If they had done their job properly, the family wouldn’t have been allowed to just lock the house and leave,” he said.
Dinesh’s statement recorded in the FIR says that around 5 pm on 26 July, he was returning from Mansurchak Market with his 15-year-old daughter after shopping for grocery when a Bolero car, which had no number plate, stopped near him. Three men and a woman got out of the vehicle.
The men held him tight while the woman pushed his daughter inside the car. When Dinesh objected, the men pointed their pistols at him.
One of the men, named Mohammad Narool Ansari, told him that if it were Pakistan, he would have abducted the girl from the house itself. The complaint names others as Izmul Khan alias Nazmul alias Aryan, Mohammad Munaffar Anjum Ansari alias Chand and Farat.
The FIR, registered only five days later, booked the four accused under IPC sections 366(A), 323, 341, 379, 384, 504, 506 and 34.
The FIR was filed only after the local Bajrang Dal activists staged a demonstration outside the Bachhwara Police Station on 30 July.
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