The Madhya Pradesh police denied on Saturday all charges against a sub-inspector accused of locking a woman and her seven-day-old girl inside their house for almost a week, causing the death of the infant.
The allegations emerged on Friday after the death of 22-year-old Sandhya Kushwaha Sharma’s child in Tikamgarh district’s Prithvipur town, 273 km from Bhopal. The police clean-chit came on a day the Madhya Pradesh Human Rights Commission (MPHRC) asked the Tikamgarh district superintendent of police (SP) Nimish Agrawal to submit a report on the incident in a week.
We’ve taken suo moto cognizance of the case on basis of report in HT: Rights panel
“On the basis of the report published in Hindustan Times on Friday, we have taken suo-moto cognizance of the case,” said LR Sisodiya, public relation officer, MPHRC.
Sandhya said last Sunday, 10 officers led by sub-inspector and in-charge of Samra police station Pankaj Mudgal barged into her house in search of her husband Rahul Sharma, a suspect in a liquor smuggling case.
When they couldn’t find him, they allegedly locked her and her baby and threatened the neighbours against helping them. The couple was reportedly alienated in the area due to their inter-caste marriage.
“I was forced to survive on atta and stale water for six days and couldn’t breastfeed my daughter. I want justice for my daughter,” she told HT. She said her husband Rahul is in Delhi on work but police say he is on the run.
There was no such incident, says SP
But Agrawal said an internal inquiry by a sub-divisional officer of police rubbished the woman’s charges. “There was no such incident in the town and it is being unnecessarily exaggerated. The SI who has been named in the incident never did the things for which he has been alleged,” said Agrawal. Mudgal claimed he never went to the woman’s house and she was trying to shield her criminal husband.
“When I contacted him on his mobile phone, he said he would surrender after the delivery of his child. I agreed on humanitarian grounds and decided not to go to his house,” said Mudgal.
Woman’s allegations are true: Eyewitness
But an eyewitness, Rudra Singh, told HT the woman’s allegations were true and the sub-inspector had courted controversies in the past.
“Few months back the SI had beaten the sarpanch of Narwari village after which the villagers thrashed him. He once slapped a woman in the locality under Prtithvipur police station,” said Singh, adding that this time he crossed the line by locking the poor woman and her daughter inside, depriving them of food and water.
Sandhya said Mudgal demanded Rs 20,000 for sparing her husband, who she said was falsely implicated in the case. “I told him my husband was wrongly named, but he threatened to kill me and my daughter,” she said.
The woman further alleged the sub-inspector threw away the food that a neighbour was bringing for her. “He then pointed his service pistol at him and threatened to drag him in a false case if he again tries to help me. He was sitting outside my house till 4am, abusing me,” added Sandhya.