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Probe ordered into victim’s first statement

Probe ordered into victim’s first statement
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The home ministry on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into the circumstances in which the statement of the 23-year-old gangrape victim was recorded the first time 21 December after allegations of police interference in the process.

The inquiry was ordered after Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit demanded a probe. Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar has denied any interference by the police.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram told mediapersons here that Home Minster Sushilkumar Shinde informed the cabinet meeting Wednesday that he had ordered an inquiry.

Dikshit had written to Shinde seeking a high-level independent inquiry into the ‘interference’ by police officers when Sub-Divisional Magistrate (Vivek Vihar) Usha Chaturvedi had sought to record statement of the gang-rape victim.

In her note to Shinde, Dikshit had cited a letter sent to her by Deputy Commissioner (East) B M Mishra following Chaturvedi’s complaint to him.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat Wednesday took a dig at Dikshit and Neeraj Kumar over the controversy about the alleged interference in taking the victim’s statement. She said their ‘fight’ had led to the victim suffering injustice and having to record her statement again.

Karat targetted Dikshit and Kumar and said it was shameful that the victim had to repeat her statement.

‘It is condemnable that the brave rape survivor, who is battling for life and is on and off a ventilator, should be forced to recall and record the statement not once but twice. It shows the callousness and insensitivity of individuals’ Karat said.

Asked about alleged police interference during the gangrape victim’s statement to the SDM, Chidambaram said, ‘We don’t know what the truth is. We have the word of the SDM as reported by the Delhi Chief Minister and the word of the police commissioner.’

The finance minister added that the gang-rape victim’s statement had been recorded a second time. ‘We are making sure that the recording is done strictly in accordance with the law,’ he said.

On the condition of the victim, Chidambaram said, ‘Unfortunately it is not something we can be cheerful about. Her condition oscillates between getting slightly better and worse. She is on a ventilator and we are very sad. We hope she recovers.’

On the possibility of treating the victim abroad, Chidambaram said he did not feel she was in ‘any condition to be moved by air’. He added the doctors would have to take a call on it.

Kumar, who had Tuesday denied allegations of interference in a press conference, said police had not insisted on a questionnaire. He also said that the SDM was briefed at her request.

He had said the statement of girl was recorded in view of her condition. He had also suggested that the SDM had run-ins with the police in the past. Delhi Chief Secretary P K Tripathi told mediapersons that the matter should not be politicised.

The woman was brutally raped by six men in a moving bus on 16 December in south Delhi. She is battling for her life in Safdarjung Hospital. All six accused have been arrested.


GOVT STEPS UP ATTACK ON TOP COP

Stepping up its pressure on Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar in the gangrape case, Delhi government on Wednesday said he has no authority to comment on functioning of the SDM who complained of police interference while recording the statement of the 23-year-old victim. ‘The police commissioner is not an authority to take a decision on the conduct of the SDM,’ Delhi chief secretary PK Tripathi said after a cabinet meeting presided by the chief minister.

Asked whether the issue was being exploited to get political mileage, Tripathi vehemently rejected the allegation and said ‘no politics is taking place on the issue’. Sources said the cabinet discussed the letter written by Sub Divisional Magistrate Usha Chaturvedi in which she had alleged ‘interference’ by at least three senior police officials while she was recording the statement of the victim. They said the cabinet endorsed Dikshit’s demand to Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde for a high-level inquiry into the complaint and felt that police should have exercised restraint in dealing with the protesters at Raisina Hills and India Gate on Saturday and Sunday. ‘The cabinet felt that the police used excessive force against the protesters which is not at all acceptable,’ a Minister said.
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