The Darjeeling Hills has just begun reacting to the recent death of a minor girl in the home of the child development project officer (CDPO) in Darjeeling.
On Saturday, the Darjeeling NGO Network - a conglomeration of 14 NGOs, along with other NGOs from Kalimpong and Siliguri, brought out a rally in town, protesting against child labour and the death of the minor in particular. Memorandums were also submitted to the deputy inspector general (DIG,) Darjeeling range, and the superintendent of police, Darjeeling.
On April 5, Phu Diki Sherpa (13) was found hanging in the home of Darjeeling CDPO Tshering Doma Bhutia here. While her husband Prithvi Raj Pradhan has been arrested, Bhutia is still at large.
Finding various anomalies pertaining to Sherpa’s death, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) had lodged an FIR with the Darjeeling sadar police station (case number 27/13 dated April 7, 2013.)
“However, the CDPO is still roaming scot-free. We request you to kindly look into the matter and see that justice is done to discourage law keepers from turning into law breakers in future,” stated the memorandum.
Lack of legal documents (adoption or foster care) in Bhutia’s possession prompted CWC to lodge an FIR against the CDPO at the Darjeeling Sadar PS. While investigating the case, the CWC had come across many loose ends. Her classmates claimed that she was unhappy and had confided in them that she had to do all the household chores, including cooking, from a tender age. She also said she was beaten up often.
“We are investigating the case. The CDPO’s husband has already been arrested and he has admitted to having tortured the child. Bhutia is absconding but we hope to nab her soon,” said Kunal Agarwal, superintendent of police (SP), Darjeeling.
Sherpa had been brought here by the CDPO from an ICDS centre at Dilpa in Lhodhama in 2002 when she was posted at Bijanbari. The victim’s father does odd jobs at Dilpa, a remote village.
“This case is an eye opener for all. The need of the hour is creating awareness in all cross sections of the society,” Agarwal added.
The Darjeeling Police, in collaboration with Child In Need Institute (CINI), an NGO, and the Darjeeling Press Guild will be organising a seminar on child rights and protection on May 7 at the Police Town Hall here.
“The seminar aims to create awareness and the public to participate in this interactive,” added Pritaya Chettri, district coordinator, CINI.