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Kerala woman's rape: Gehlot raises question over police probe


New Delhi, May 9: Union minister Thaawar Chand Gehlot, who recently visited Kerala and met the family of the Dalit woman who was brutally raped and killed in Ernakulam district, today tabled a report in Parliament alleging laxity and delay in the police probe into the case.

"It is not clear exactly when the District Collector was informed of the incident. The initial probe started with the charge of murder. Relevant sections of rape were added later. The postmortem report was available after four days of the incident. Evidence from the crime scene could have been lost in between.

Thaawar Chand Gehlot

"Since the deceased was from the SC community, a senior police officer of the level of Deputy SP should have been entrusted with the investigation at the outset without waiting for the apprehension of the accused," the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment said in the report.

Considering the "severity and sensisivity" of the crime, an SIT should have been formed at the very outset, he said and questioned why an FIR in the case was not lodged by the victim's mother, despite her being present at the crime scene, but by a panchayat member. The postmortem did not specifically mention rape. However, Section 376 of IPC was added to it on April 29.

Also, there was a delay of four days in submitting the report to court which was not adequately explained, Gehlot said. "Despite all efforts, the suspected accused persons have not been apprehended and this is a matter of great anxiety and concern. The relative isolation of the family, unwillingness of the neighbor immediately after the incident to disclose facts relating to the occurrence and withdrawal of the deceased's sister into silence have deprived the investigation team of vital information," he said.

Gehlot said he brought these aspects to the notice of the Dictrict Collector and the SP at a meeting and asked them to ensure that they are taken into account in the process of investigation. The minister said he had met the woman's mother and also interacted with a medical officer about the treatment being given to her.

"The mother was psychologically affected by the tragic incident. She was disturbed and disconsolate. I consoled her and promised her that justice to the victim would be ensured and all appropriate assistance to the family would be given," he said.

"It is reported that the woman belonged to Scheduled Caste as her father belonged to Scheduled Caste. The mother is reportedly from Backward Class. She was a student of law and a dancer. The family appears to be extremely poor with the daughter earning and partly and occasionally supporting the family," he said in his report.

The state government has announced a compensation of Rs.10 lakhs to the victim's family and promised a job for her sister which is pending clearance by the Election Commission. Under Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) rules 2016, the family will be entitled to further compensation of Rs. 8.25 lakhs, he said.

"Also, under Dr Ambedkar National Relief scheme for Scheduled Caste Victims of Atrocities, the family will be entitled to one-time aid of Rs 5 lakhs for murder and Rs 2 lakhs for rape on the forwarding of the report by the District Collector and the state government. The amount will be released by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment," Gehlot said.


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