A day after Miss India 2016 Priyadarshini Chatterjee wrote to the Assam chief minister about an alleged child abuse involving a professor of Guwahati’s Assam Agricultural University, Sarbananda Sonowal flung to action and directed the police to take necessary action in the case.
Priyadarshini, who hails from Assam, is associated with Universal Team for Social Action & Help’s (UTSAH), a local NGO that works for child rights and protection in the state.
Raising the issue in her letter to the CM on March 22, Priyadarshini wrote that an FIR was lodged against the professor at Dispur police station on February 22, but the delay in his arrest allowed the accused to get anticipatory bail.
In the letter, she has also alleged that the 13-year-old Mehak (name changed) was sexually abused by the professor who engaged the child as a domestic help for two years.
According to the NGO, the girl told the Kamrup (metro) Child Welfare Committee that she had been working in the house of the accused for more than two years as her mother could not take care of her and her father had died a few years ago.
According to the FIR lodged by the NGO, The professor physically assaulted her and forced her to give him “massages” when his wife was not at home. It also alleged that the accused had tried to molest her.
On February 21, the Assam police took the victim’s statement, and the Dispur Assistant Commissioner of Police later led a team to the children’s home to take another statement from the victim.
The Professor was booked for Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment, Cruelty, Exploitation and Unlawful employment of a ‘child’ who hails from Mangaldai, a Tea Estate Area in Assam.
The beauty queen in her letters also emphasised that the procedure was “unnecessary as it was not in sync with the principle of ‘best interest of the child’.”
“Also, it is important to prevent secondary victimisation by ensuring that the child is interviewed as early as possible. Interaction with authorities should be as easy as possible, whilst limiting the number of unnecessary interactions the child has with them. Repeated interrogations can add to more trauma,” the former beauty queen stressed.
“It has come to my notice that the interview methods, applied by the officer from the all-women police station in Pan Bazar while recording second statement, were seemingly unfriendly,” she pointed out.
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