Wednesday, September 3, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Rights panel to rescue of minor raped in custody
Exhume child’s body for DNA tests, says order
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 2
It’s a sad tale of things suddenly going wrong for a minor, who was first allegedly raped for months by a police constable and then booked for concealing the body of her girl child, whom she delivered dead some days ago. Even while the girl, now a major, but yet too young to realize the extent of tragedy that has befallen her, remains in judicial custody back home in Amritsar, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), has come to her rescue here.

Taking up the case laced with horrendous details of rape and abandonment, the Commission has ordered the Director, Health Services, Punjab, to get the body of the child exhumed for the purpose of DNA testing, the only tool to ascertaining the child’s paternity. Passing a strongly-worded order on a human rights complaint filed by Veena Sharma, coordinator, Human Rights Legal Network, and member, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, the Commission has observed: “Register this complaint as a case. Since the paternity of the child has to be fixed, it will be appropriate to order that the body of the child be excavated and DNA tests be performed. This will be done by Director, Health Services, Punjab, who will take help from SSP, Majitha, Amritsar.”

While the victim of sexual harassment remains in custody, The Tribune today spoke to DHS, Punjab as well as DSP, Majitha (Amritsar) B.S. Sidhu, who is investigating the case. SSP, Majitha Shashi Prabha was reportedly on leave and SP (HQ) Dharam Singh, official in charge in SSP’s, absence said the Commission’s orders had not been received (the orders were, however, immediately faxed to the SSP’s office).

The DHS, Punjab, Dr DPS Sandhu, said that he had directed the Civil Surgeon of the area to handle the case as soon as possible. Meanwhile, DSP, Majitha, who was not aware of the Commission’s order, informed The Tribune that after getting the post mortem done, the police got the child’s body buried at the cremation ground. He said that though the police wanted to get DNA testing done, it was unable to do so due to financial strains.

“We get only Rs 20,000 under the DNA head, annually. This amount is insufficient for getting the test done. The expenses of the test, to be conducted at Genetic Laboratory, Hyderabad, comes to Rs 40,000. Apart from that the Director of the Institute conducting the test would have been on our witness list and we would have had to bear his expenses whenever he would have come to place DNA evidence before the court. We could not afford that, but now that the Commission has ordered DHS, Punjab to get the test done, we will be more than expeditious in exhuming the child’s body for the test,” he said.

While the fate of the girl hangs fire, the Commission has directed SSP, Majitha, to investigate the matter and book the faltering police person Partap, if found guilty. Partap was serving as a constable with Majitha police station until recently. He first came to the house of the girl to arrest her brother, who was involved in some feud with a neighbour. Lured into the neighbours’ house one day, the girl was allegedly raped by the constable. The rape was allegedly facilitated by her neighbours, Saabi and his wife.

The complaint filed in the Commission mentions that fearing social wrath, the girl abandoned her child, only to be booked for concealing its body by secretly disposing it of (Section 381 IPC). The girl may have some help coming when the PSHRC gets progress report of the case on its table on October 7.

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