Pramod Kumar and Abhishek Anand, Asian Age Correspondents
New Delhi, 26 December 2012. Delhi chief minister Sheila Diskhit and city police commissioner Neeraj Kumar have locked horns over the handling of the brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old woman fighting for her life for the past nine days.
The chief minister, who has been seeking removal of the police chief, has now complained to the Centre about “interference” by police officers while recording the 23-year-old victim’s statement.
In a letter to Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Monday, she said the charges against the police by subdivisional magistrate Usha Chaturvedi during recording of the victim’s statement were “alarming and serious”. The home ministry is learnt to have taken serious note of Ms Dikshit’s letter, and Mr Shinde ordered a probe into the charges levelled against the police on Tuesday.
Hitting back, the police commissioner, Mr Kumar, not only denied the charges on Tuesday, but the police also demanded a probe into the “leakage” of the CM’s letter to the home minister. Delhi police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said it would demand a high-level probe into the “leakage of the chief minister’s top secret letter”.
Following the controversy, a fresh statement by the victim was recorded on Tuesday by the metropolitan magistrate.
“The victim recorded the statement before a judicial magistrate today. This has more evidentiary value”, the police chief said.
He then went on to target the SDM by alleging that this “particular magistrate had earlier tried to create trouble for the force” by “giving (soundbites) to TV channels when the police was trying control a riot-like situation at Khoda Colony (East Delhi) in September this year”.
His other accusation was that the SDM again “interrupted police work when a fire broke out and a mob turned violent near Karkardooma Metro station in November this year”.
But while levelling the allegations, the police chief seemed to be unaware of the fact that the SDM had been given a “clean chit” by the home ministry in both cases after the Delhi police had raised objections.
It may be recalled that while the home ministry and Delhi lieutenant-governor Tejendra Khanna had been backing the police commissioner, the Delhi CM and her son, Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit, have questioned the performance of the police in the gangrape case.
In her letter to the home minister on Monday evening, the chief minister said the charges by the SDM were “alarming and serious”. The chief minister forwarded a copy of the complaint lodged by the SDM in which she accused the police of trying to “mount pressure on her to record a statement as per their convenience”.
In her complaint to the deputy commissioner (east district) on December 22, the SDM alleged the police “tried to pressure” her to record a statement as “per their convenience”. It further alleged that when she refused to do so, the police “misbehaved and tried to intimidate” her. The SDM said this had happened on December 21 when she had gone to Safdarjung Hospital to record the victim’s statement.
She claimed the DCP (South), ACP (Vasant Vihar) and ACP (Defence Colony) were present with a huge contingent of police personnel. The SDM wrote: “They showed me a copy of a questionnaire which was prepared by them, 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.”
The SDM said “a huge amount of time was wasted over the issue of videography during recording of the statement of the victim, as the police was trying to dissuade me from doing this”. The SDM said that the “videography was not carried out as the mother of the victim refused”.
In her letter to DC (east district), she claimed: “Finally, I was able to start recording of the statement of the victim at around 8 pm after forcibly evicting police personnel from the ICU.”
Refuting these charges, the police chief said his men “never forced any questionnaire on the SDM”. The police commissioner argued it was the police which had “insisted that the statement of the girl be recorded as her condition (was) deteriorating rapidly”.
He said the SDM, Ms Chaturvedi, was assigned the job by the divisional commissioner. The police chief then argued: “If the SDM felt that something was wrong, then why did she record the statement?”