Taking suo-motu cognizance of the physical torture of the domestic help (12) who had escaped from the Ludhiana house of state BJP Mahila Morcha president Renu Thapar, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has demanded a report in 20 days from its state counterpart body and the Jalandhar deputy commissioner.
In letters to both offices, the commission has also asked for a copy of the first-information report (FIR) against the employer under the law against child labour, and a copy of the report of inquiry against the police officials who had violated rules. "The Jalandhar police commissioner was required to submit the action-taken report by September 9, within a week on the incident, but has not got back to us, so far," said Sameer Kumar, secretary of the State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights.
Police have not registered any FIR, so far, in spite of assurance to the media from deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who was in the city on Sunday, that he would give instruction to the police commissioner. State Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa had also condemned police inaction and asked for registering a case against the women's leader of the state unit of the Bhartitya Janata Party (BJP).
The girl who escaped from Thapar's house in Ludhiana had reached her city, Jalandhar, on September 7 and accused her employer of torture. First in a police station and then in a local court, she stated that Thapar had taken her away from her parents on the pretext of educating her but put her into domestic work, adding that the leader's family would beat her up with canes for mistakes.
Thapar denied the charges and attributed these to political motives. "The girl's parents, who live in Jalandhar, handed her over to me for her education, and staying with my family, all she did was study," the BJP leader said. Congress councillor Sushil Kumar Rinku, who gave shelter to the girl after she escaped from Ludhiana, criticised police. "They are hesitant to take action because the matter relates to a state BJP leader," he said, adding: "The girl has submitted before the magistrate what happened in Ludhiana, yet police transferred the case to that city just to harass her."
Assigned probe, says police commissioner, woman officer denies
Police did it because the sequence of events happened in Ludhiana, police commissioner Ram Singh has said, adding: "Additional deputy commissioner of police Nilambari Jagdale is looking into the matter."
Asked about the case status, Jagdale denied that an inquiry had been assigned to her ever in any matter relating to Renu Thapar.
Powers of national commission
The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has all the powers of a civil court, while investigating under the Code of Civil Procedures, 1908. On completion of the inquiry, it has the authority to recommend to gbovernment concerned the initiation of prosecution proceedings or other suitable action against the violators of child rights. It can approach the Supreme Court or the high court concerned for directions, orders or writs and recommend to the government or the authority concerned to grant interim relief to the victims their families, as necessary.