Mumbai, March 23, 2017: Miss India 2016 Priyadarshini Chatterjee, who hails from Assam, has shot off letters to the state’s Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Governor Banwarilal Purohit and Gauhati High Court Chief Justice Ajit Singh over the sexual exploitation of a 13-year-old girl.
In the letters written on Wednesday (IANS has the copy of all the letters), Priyadarshini has raised the issue “that has been a long standing concern for many children of my state”. She is the ambassador of Universal Team for Social Action & Help’s (UTSAH) anti-child abuse programme.
Priyadarshini wrote that following a complaint UTSAH received on February 20, the NGO filed an FIR with Dispur police about a child sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Priyadarshini said the 13-year-old Mehak (name changed) from Mangaldoi was sexually abused by a professor who engaged the child as a domestic help for two years.
On February 21, the Dispur 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.
Priyadarshini in her letters said the procedure was “unnecessary as it defies 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.
Also, she said, UTSAH associates Bhagyalaxmi Dutta and Afsana Yasmin who have been following the entire process with the police have faced “uncharitable questions, completely unrelated to the case”.
“While lodging the FIR, we had forewarned the police that if immediate action was not initiated, the perpetrator would escape. Without paying heed to our concern, the police kept on delaying the arrest.”
“Our apprehensions came true when we later learnt that professor (name withheld) and his wife were absconding. Now we hear that the perpetrator has taken an anticipatory bail and is roaming around scot-free while the victim is languishing in a Child Care Institution (CCI) in Guwahati,” the letters read.
Priyadarshini has demanded the abuser’s arrest and action against the Dispur police “that will set a progressive precedent around cases of Child Sexual Abuse in Assam”.