Sheila Dikshit, police lock horns over interference in victim’s statemen

 

Students protesting against the recent gang-rape of a student, outside Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's residence in New Delhi. File photo Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The HinduStudents protesting against the recent gang-rape of a student, outside Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s residence in New Delhi. File photo Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

The day after the protests subsided political turf wars broke out in the capital over a complaint by a Sub-Divisional Magistrate that the police wanted to influence the statement of the rape victim, which would play a key role in the trial slated to begin early January.

 

Escalating the complaint, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit wrote to the Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde demanding a high-level probe into the alleged misconduct by police officers. Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar hit back saying that the East Delhi SDM Usha Chaturvedi had interfered with police functioning in the past and levelled similar allegations.

 

Ms. Dikshit has been critical of the handling of Delhi’s law and order situation by the police which is controlled by the Central government.

 

Earlier in the day, the Police Commissioner attended the funeral of 46-year-old Constable Subhash Chand Tomar, who after being grievously injured during the clashes between the police and the protesters at India Gate here on Sunday, passed away at Lohia Hospital in the morning. Mr. Kumar announced ex-gratia and monetary compensation to the constable’s family besides a job to one of the family members on compassionate grounds.

 

In a letter to Deputy Commissioner (East) B.M. Mishra who forwarded it to Ms. Dikshit, Ms. Chaturvedi said that the Deputy Commissioner of Police (South Delhi), Assistant Commissioners of Police of Vasant Vihar and Defence Colony sub-divisions were present at the Safdarjung hospital along with a huge entourage of police personnel when she arrived there to record the victim’s statement.

 

“They showed me a copy of questionnaire…and asked me to record them as facts in the presence of the investigating officer. That brief was far from the actual events of the night of the crime as discovered by me while recording the statement of the victim later. They tried to pressurise me to record the statement as per their convenience and when I refused, they misbehaved and tried to intimidate me,” alleged the SDM, adding that the police also did not allow videography of the statement on the pretext that the victim’s mother had raised an objection.

 

Refuting the charges, Neeraj Kumar said the police on their own had decided to get the victim’s statement recorded by an SDM in the wake of her deteriorating condition. “The police briefed her about the case and also took her to the hospital where the victim’s mother raised objections on videography of the statement. We had not given any questionnaire to the SDM as being alleged,” said Mr. Kumar.

 

The Police Commissioner said had that been the case, the SDM should not have proceeded further and lodged a complaint instead. He further demanded a probe into the leaking of Ms. Dikshit’s letter to the Home Minister.

 

Vital signs improve

 

Meanwhile, doctors at Safdarjung Hospital said that while the patient’s liver function was compromised her vital parameters had improved marginally although she continued to be on ventilator support. “The patient is psychologically stable, conscious and communicative,” general surgeon Sunil Jain said. With traffic restrictions being eased and metro stations opening, the situation in the heart of the Capital improved on Tuesday even though protesters in small groups turned up at Jantar Mantar.

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