Four days after city mayor Asha Kumari Jaswal and two others were booked for trespassing into Snehalaya, a home for destitute and abandoned children in Maloya, and for violating rules prescribed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, an inquiry report has given a clean chit to her. A three-member Chandigarh Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CCPCR) panel conducted the inquiry. The five-page report has been submitted to UT adviser Parimal Rai.
On January 31, police had booked a 12-year-old boy for allegedly sodomising a 10-year-old at Snehalaya in Maloya. On February 3, the mayor and two councillors — Rajesh Kalia and Ravi Kant Sharma — visited the institute. Social welfare department director Nishu Singhal lodged a complaint with the police that the three entered the premises without permission and that their meeting a sexual assault victim violated rules.
The inquiry report states that ‘...it seems apparent that the Snehalaya staff introduced the victim child to the mayor’. The report from Pramod Sharma, professor Nishitha Jaswal and professor Devi Sirohi adds that the visit had been intimated in advance to the superintendent.
GAPS IN INQUIRY REPORT
No clarity on whether the mayor had permission to visit?
The report gives a clean chit to mayor of trespassing, saying that the shelter home staff was informed about the mayor’s visit, but it does not specify, who was informed and when?
How did the mayor and her entourage meet the victim?
In the report, the mayor is quoted as saying that as she was about to leave in her vehicle, the Snehalaya warden stopped her and requested to come back and meet the child. In their statements, the employees, however, have said that the mayor insisted on meeting the children, and separately in their rooms and not in an assembly as they had suggested. The inquiry report does not conclusively establish any of the versions.
Did the mayor threaten shelter home employees?
To this critical question, the report is again inconclusive and takes no clear stand. It just goes by the denial of the mayor, even as the employees have even lodged a police complaint to this effect.
How could the media have taken photographs of the mayor’s entourage and the victim too, without permission, if she had not asked them to?
The report states that there was nothing to show that the media took photographs at the mayor’s instance. But, then the question is that why did the mayor tag the media along with her? Does merely saying that the media took photographs absolve the mayor of violating the law.