Sexual assault on minor children ‘disturbing trend’ in Odisha: DGP

Bhubaneswar: Expressing concern over growing number of sexual assault cases on minor children in Odisha, DGP Dr RP Sharma termed it as ‘disturbing trend, extremely shocking and very sad state of affairs’.

The police have taken prompt action in the rape cases of minor girls arresting the accused within 24 hours of reporting, said Sharma in a press conference here today.

Briefing the press, Sharma said, “The study by the Crime Branch found that in 92.5% such cases the criminal is either the relative of the victim or he is from her neighbourhood or he is in acquaintance from the belonging to the same locality or community and the victims also known them.”

In 70% cases, the culprits were arrested within 24 hours of the reporting and the arrests have been made within 72 hours of the report lodged in the police station in 81% cases. The other actions like sending the victim and accused for medical examination, recording the statements under 164 CrPC and collection of evidence have been taken promptly, he said.

In a video conferencing programme held yesterday with the SPs, the DCPs, crime branch officers and senior police officers, Sharma had discussion to chalk out the strategy to deal with such rising incidents of crime.

During the discussion, the DGP has asked the officers to adopt two prompt actions — the sense of urgency and the holistic approach.

“When I say sense of urgency means when such crime is reported in any police station or coming to the notice of the police, the case must be registered promptly with all promptitude. And the investigation must start immediately. Then the accused has to be identified and he has to be arrested as quickly as possible. They are sent for medical examination. The statement of victim is recorded under section 164 crpc within 24 hours of the reporting of the case. And also we look for the physical evidence to send it to the forensic laboratory so that we do not miss out any vital physical clue, which could have immense help during trial of such cases,” Sharma told media.

“Secondly, we emphasised the holistic approach. In that approach we sensitise them that both at the horizontal level and at the vertical level. All the police and non police agencies involved in the investigation in this crime, should act promptly and vertically, he said.

Explaining about police action in the cases, the DGP said that the police not only take strict action but also collect the prima facie evidence, examine the witnesses, submit chargesheet in the cases as soon as possible.

“I have told the SPs to submit the chargesheet preferably within four weeks of the report,” he said.

The police already treat the rape cases of minor girls as red flag cases.

The police have decided to appoint a special PP and investigating officer during the trial. As per the move, a particular investigating officer will be given the responsibility and accountability to coordinate with the court during the trial and ensure presence of witnesses timely and also ensure that all the expert reports are available in time and are produced in the court in time during the trial.

Sharma said that the SPs and DCPs in the video conference were told very clearly that the guidelines and SOPs issued from time to time in the past must be followed meticulously.

The conviction rate in Odisha is low in the past few years. It is hovering around 10 to 11%.

“We are trying to have all possible measures in crime branch especially in rape cases that how to enhance the conviction rate. However, it is satisfying to see that in 2018 whatever judgments have been pronounced in the rape cases and copies available with the crime branch, the conviction rate is 38.5% so far,” Sharma said.

In 2018, there is conviction in the red flag cases. It is 79%, which is quite good.

“I wish we will maintain the tempo and we rather further improve our monitoring of the trial in rape cases. Not only the quality of our investigation is better but during trial also all these responsibilities we discussed we chive respectable conviction rate in these case,” he added.

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