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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

84 days on, rape accused still free

Jatinder Kohli, Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, December 18, 2013
First Published: 23:07 IST(18/12/2013) | Last Updated: 23:10 IST(18/12/2013)

More than 84 days after businessman Harbans Dhall (65) was made accused in a case of raping his maid (16) and making her pregnant, police have made no arrest or headway with the investigation, and the district administration has failed to provide the victim with any relief.

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The minor victim is yet to come out of trauma and, so far, no one from the administration has contacted her family or arranged for her counselling and support. Nothing has been done for her education and rehabilitation, though the provisions of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) mandate it.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012, police have to report the matter to Child Welfare Committee within 24 hours of recording the complaint, to arrange for the long-term rehabilitation of the child victim. Police, however, failed to do so, and the investigation officer has accepted that.

Moreover, leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress are reported to have tried to broker a settlement and exerted pressure on the victim, as the accused is influential.  "It was the administration's duty to provide the rape victim with relief and rehabilitation that includes giving her education and monetary assistance," said NCPCR's member Vinod Kumar Tikoo. Since it failed to do its duty, I will ask the state child rights body to take action and help the girl."

Deputy commissioner Varun Roozam said he was unaware of the matter but agreed to seek a report and order appropriate steps for the victim's relief and rehabilitation. "All accused are on the run, and police have received arrest warrants against four till December 23," said Bhargo Camp station house officer (SHO) Barjinder Singh, adding that police were yet to report the incident to the Child Welfare Committee, though hunt for the accused was on.

Case history

The girl (16) was the businessman's maid for the past three years and getting `1,500 a month as salary.
She accused Harbans Dhall of raping her repeatedly at home in the past few months and intimidating her.
In the first week of September 25, the victim's health started deteriorating, and her mother informed the Dhalls that the child would be unable to serve them anymore.
On September 15, Dhall's wife and daughter-in-law came to the victim's house and took her to a private hospital near Ravidass Chowk, where Dr Amrit Kaur found her pregnant and forced her to undergo abortion.
On September 25, police registered a case against Harbans Dhall, his wife, and daughter in-law; and Dr Amrit Kaur under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

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