J. BALAJI, The Hindu, Jan 18,2013

NHRC directs U.P. govt. to give Rs. 5 lakh to kin of Dalit girl killed by constable; The constable had murdered and hanged a Dalit girl after a failed rape attempt

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to provide a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the family of a 14-year-old Dalit girl, who was murdered by a police constable after a failed rape attempt in 2011.

The incident happened in the Nighasan police station in Lakhimpur-Kheri district of the State.

Atiq Ahmed, who lived on the police station premises, used to lure the girl often with money or gifts. On June 10, 2011, he tried to drag the girl into his room. When she resisted and screamed in protest, he first tried to gag her with his hand and then strangulated her with her dupatta.

The constable then hanged the body from the branch of a fallen tree in the vicinity to paint his crime as suicide.

The first post-mortem had dismissed the case as suicide. It was only after the intervention of the government that a second post-mortem was carried out by a special team of Lucknow doctors, who confirmed the death as on account of “strangulation.”

The NHRC, which took up the case suo motu following media reports, took serious exception to the attitude of the law keeper.

The Station House Officer, who was supposed to uphold law in his jurisdiction, joined hands with the accused, who was his personal security officer-cum-gunner, and helped him, along with other cops, by destroying evidence and cut the tree itself on which the girl was hanged. A team of three government doctors too helped the accused police personnel by creating records that stated the cause of death as “ante-mortem hanging.”

After considering the material on record, the Commission observed that “in view of the report of the investigation team of this Commission and the investigation carried out by the CB-CID, it is established, prima facie, that a police constable attempted to rape the 14-year-old victim, daughter of a watchman, strangulated her to death and then hanged her from a tree on the premises of police station Nighasan.

“Two constables attempted to destroy evidence. The team of three doctors who conducted the post-mortem examination colluded with the police and gave a false report on the cause of death as ante-mortem hanging. The senior police officers committed dereliction of duty by not taking timely appropriate action.”

In response to NHRC notices, the U.P. government informed that in addition to initiating department proceedings against the delinquent policemen, a charge sheet under Sections 302 (murder), 376 (rape), 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offence punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) and 201 (disappearance of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was filed in the court against them.

While the circle officer was transferred, five other policemen were suspended. Besides, all four doctors who carried out the first post-mortem on the girl were also suspended.