The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has made some strong observations about the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe in the case of alleged sexual abuse of six minor girls by a newspaper owner in Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal.
The Commission has observed that the police officers who were investigating the case might be protecting Pyare Miyan, the accused newspaper owner.
Miyan and his aides were arrested in July 2020. The six girls were then shifted to a Children Home. But in January 2021, two girls were rushed to the hospital for a suspected overdose of sleeping pills/poisonous substances. One of the girls died two days later.
The Commission probed the July 2020 case and also the death of one of the minor girls at the Children Home in Bhopal. Last week, the Commission had sent the report to Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, the state's chief secretary, the state's additional chief secretary (home) and the state's Director General of Police, for further action.
The 22-page report has made observations about the SIT in the case, especially the role of Deputy Superintendent of Police Umesh Tiwari, who is part of both the teams, one probing the alleged sexual abuse, and the other probing the death of the minor girl.
The report raised suspicion on Tiwari's role in both the cases and recommended that a probe be initiated against him.
"The NCPCR team observed that Tiwari isn't familiar and acquainted with the basic provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act," The New Indian Express quoted the report as saying.
"Tiwari admitted that he visited the Children Home in a police uniform while conducting an inquiry in the matter. Hence, it is suggested that he may be replaced from both the SITs with immediate effect. Tiwari needs to be sensitised with respect to the POCSO Act 2012 and the JJ Act 2015," the report added.
The Commission has asked the state DGP to furnish a compliance report with respect to the observations of the Commission's team regarding Tiwari within 15 days. It has also asked to note the role of police officer/officers, who may have favoured the alleged paedophile man.
The report also noted that the CCTV footage of the minor who died was missing, raising suspicion about the role of Children Home in the incident. "The access of the poisonous material which led to the death of the minor girl can't be ignored and needs to be investigated," it added.
The commission noted that minor girls worked as domestic help at the alleged accused's place, which itself is a violation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 (CLPRA). "This has been overlooked by the police, the special investigation team as well," the reported read.
The Commission recommended filing an FIR under relevant sections of CLPRA and Section 77 of Juvenile Justice Act 2015 against the accused and his family members since they employed minor girls for domestic work at their home.