An alarming 440 cases were registered in Mumbai under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act between January 2014 and March 2015, a right to information (RTI) application has revealed.
A majority of the victims are between the age group of 1 and 14 years. A total of 635 cases have been registered in the city since the POCSO Act came into force in 2012, to curb the rising cases of child abuse. At least 749 accused have been arrested so far.
The Act was first applied in Mumbai in January 2013 against a bus attendant of a Juhu school for allegedly molesting a four-year-old girl. This means, between 2013 and 2014, 195 cases were reported, a number which has doubled now.
According to the statistics provided by the Mumbai police, 33 victims were below 5 years, 85 between 6 and 10 years, 114 between 11 and 14 years, while 185 were between 15 and 18 years of age. The age of 24 victims was not available with the police.
In the 440 cases, 43 accused were below 18 years, 196 were between 19 and 30 years, while 135 were above 31 years of age. The age of 66 accused was not available. Of the 749 arrested accused, 251 are on bail, while 335 are in judicial custody. Reports of the other 163 are not available with the police.
Although the city police have been issued strict instructions to be extremely sensitive in handling POCSO cases, several cases have been highlighted where officers showed carelessness.
In April, assistant inspector S Nimbalkar from Antop Hill and assistant sub-inspector Jhavre (first name not available) from Wadala TT were suspended for violating protocol and displaying insensitivity while dealing with the rape case of a five-year-old girl.
When the case came to light, the child was not taken straight to the hospital, as protocol demands. Instead, the cops took her to the Wadala TT police station. They also wasted time arguing over issues relating to jurisdiction, deferring the child’s treatment.
Activist Chetan Kothari, who filed the RTI, said: “The police need to be more serious while investigating these cases.”
Deven Bharti, joint commissioner of police (law and order), said, “Police officers have been instructed to deal with POCSO cases sensitively. There was an increase in the cases as the police, according to the Supreme Court guidelines, register a minor’s missing case as abduction.”