29 June-2014, Mayabhushan Nagvenkar/FP: Television reports were enough for the Goa government and police to launch vigorous action against journalist Tarun Tejpal in a sexual assault case. The alacrity with which both acted was unprecedented. However, the same sense of urgency is conspicuous by its absence when it comes to other cases of harassment of women in the state. Since the sensational Tejpal matter, there have been several other incidents reported in the state where police have been reluctant to register crimes against assaulted women.
In a case of staggering brutality recently 15 km away from the state capital, three persons, including two women, clubbed a woman, stripped her, dragged her around and stuffed chilly powder in her private parts over a property dispute. The 33-year-old woman rushed to the Mapusa police station to lodge an FIR. The police first refused to file an FIR and then filed a non-cognizable complaint. The FIR was filed by the police as late as Friday, only after persistent follow-ups by the victim.
“I was beaten up by the Sonabia Sasve, Jorge Sasve and his wife by wooden sticks. They hit me on the head. And when I was struggling to stay conscious, they threw chilli and turmeric power on me. Later they stuffed it in my private parts,” she said in her complaint. She further says that her six-year-old daughter had managed to escape the assault by escaping to another neighbour’s house, from where she made frantic attempts to call the police control room. The police control van did arrive and the victim was taken to the nearest medical facility for first aid, but when she approached the Mapusa police station with her complaint, she was administered a second round of humiliation by the assistant sub inspector there.
His refusal to file an FIR is contrary to a repeated public assurance given by home minister and chief minister Manohar Parrikar that all complaints especially those filed by assaulted women would have to be registered as FIRs without delay.
After repeated requests he finally registered the complaint as a mere non-cognizable offence. The case was only registered five days later as an FIR, earlier in the day. A few hours after the FIR was registered, the sun-inspector was suspended pending enquiry.
“Prima facie it appears to be a case of dereliction of duty. The sub-inspector should have registered the FIR considering the nature of crime which was reported to him by the victim. An enquiry has been initiated into the incident,” a senior police official told Firstpost. A police spokesperson said that the accused persons had been arrested after the FIR was filed under sections 325, 506 (attempted murder), 354, 341 and 376 r/w 34.
According to a leading women’s activist Sabina Martins, her women’s NGO – Bailancho Saad – had received a bunch of other complaints about police stations not registering their complaints related to assault. “In another case, a 19-year-old girl, an orphan who was residing with her uncle in the North Goa, faced problems to file a complaint against the assault which she suffered at the hands of her uncle. She first went to Porvorim police station, where she was asked to approach Calangute police station. Instead of running from police station to police station, she came to women’s police station and the complaint was lodged but no swift action was taken,” she said.
“There are more such cases of violence against women, (specifically) one in the jurisdiction of Old Goa police station and another at Panaji and both the cases are being literally neglected by the police”, she also said.