December 17, 2016 2:02:33 am
Adequate protection and victim friendly counselling: That’s the need of the hour judging from 44 FIRs of sexual assault in Aman Vihar — at least half of them involving minor victims and filed under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act.
Nothing demonstrates this more than the case of a 10-year-old boy, whose name figures in two sexual assault FIRs. The first was filed when police apprehended him for “raping” his five-year-old cousin, and the second when he complained of being sodomised. The latter was filed during his trial, when he told the court he had been raped several times by two neighbours, who asked him to “do to his sister” what they did to him.
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“They pulled my pants down…and raped me…many times,” he said during his confession to the Juvenile Justice Board. “They asked me to do the same thing to my sister… and I did.”
The investigation officer said, “It was only when he was produced before the JJB that we found he was sexual assaulted by two men repeatedly. The board immediately ordered his rehabilitation.”
Living in fear
Four years after the gangrape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on board a bus in south Delhi rocked the nation, Aman Vihar has emerged as the Ground Zero of sexual assault — the highest number of reported cases in absolute terms from any police station in the city this year.
A visit to the 10-year-old boy’s home threw light on the state of affairs. The boy, back from school, reached out and hugged a soft toy before placing it back safely. “That is his best friend these days. He is not allowed to play outside and is undergoing (psychological) treatment at Sanjay Gandhi hospital,” said his mother.
His family said they do not trust neighbours anymore. “I go to get drinking water in the afternoon. My husband, a tailor, comes back at night. These two men would take my child and buy him chocolates when no one was home,” said his mother.
“We knew they were drug addicts… That is common in Aman Vihar. But I didn’t know they used to take my nephew out,” said the boy’s uncle.
Less than 50 metres from the house is where the two accused, brothers Jai (20) and Ajay (23), reside. While Jai has been arrested, Ajay is absconding. Their father set up an eatery stall for them to run, but they were not interested.
“I have no money to bail him out. All our money was spent on the stall,” said their father.
The 10-year-old’s case is just one of many in Aman Vihar.
The mother of a 12-year-old rape victim recounted, “Earlier this year, while returning from work, I heard my daughter crying… I saw a naked man in the room, and found the door locked. I barged in and he attacked me. He bit my hand and escaped.”
The girl’s father is a rickshaw puller, and the mother works in a factory. “We have to leave both our children at home. This place is very unsafe; any stranger can walk in. There are no police posts or CCTV cameras,” said the mother.
The accused, 20-year-old Shivam, lived next to the victim’s house. Out on bail, he now stays at a relative’s house. “My daughter is not being protected by police. He regularly visits the area. There is threat to her. I have complained to the DCP, but no action has been taken. Police have to protect victims and witnesses during trial,” said the mother.
“On witness protection, the law states the investigation officer has to carry out a threat perception. They are not doing this. The duty is the court’s as well… We are taking up these issues in our training programme. If the IO does not do it, the public prosecutor should find out threat perception,” said a judicial officer.
On May 31 this year, an eight-year-old girl from Aman Vihar was rushed to hospital when her mother noticed bloodstains on her bed. Hours later, doctors confirmed sexual assault, even as the child stayed silent.
The girl spoke only after specialists counselled her. “She said she was raped 200 metres from home. The accused picked her up when she was sleeping on a cot outside her home. He covered her mouth so she couldn’t scream,” said the mother.
The police, using CCTV footage, arrested a 20-year-old factory worker. His family claimed he is a minor. But, like many others in area, they had no legal document to prove his age.
The victim had to relive the ordeal half a dozen times, narrating it to different agencies.
Additional Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma, member secretary, Delhi State Legal Services Authority, said, “The victim is confronted with at least six functionaries. Every time you do this, you open a chapter of pain and anxiety. This must be addressed.”
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