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Delhi govt to order magisterial probe into Dalit girl’s death; Rahul’s tweet of picture sparks controversy

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The Delhi government on Wednesday said it will order a magisterial inquiry into the death of a nine-year-old Dalit girl following an alleged sexual assault, even as a controversy erupted after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted a picture of him meeting her parents.

While the BJP accused Gandhi of “furthering” his political agenda, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights asked Twitter to take action against the Congress leader’s handle for sharing the photo on the platform, saying it violates the Juvenile Justice and POCSO acts.

The Delhi Police on Wednesday transferred the case to Crime Branch. Delhi Police PRO Chinmoy Biswal said it was done for further expeditious and scientific investigation in order for speedy trial in the interest of justice.

CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and demanded urgent action against the guilty.

During the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Gandhi and Karat met the parents of the girl and assured them of all possible help.

The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) also demanded a speedy investigation into the case.

Kejriwal said his government will order a magisterial inquiry into the case and announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the girl.

“Our girl cannot come back. The injustice done to the family is unfortunate and cannot be compensated, but the government will give Rs 10 lakh to them and order a magisterial inquiry into the matter,” he told reporters after meeting the family.

The girl died under mysterious circumstances when she went to get water from a cooler at a crematorium in the Old Nangal area of southwest Delhi last Sunday. Her parents alleged that she was raped and her body was forcibly cremated by a crematorium priest who had falsely claimed that she was electrocuted.

Hundreds of locals, including the girl’s parents, have been staging a protest near the site of the incident, demanding capital punishment for the guilty.

After meeting the girl’s parents, Gandhi asserted that he is with them on the path to justice and “will not back down even an inch”.

He said the family is demanding nothing but justice and claiming that they are not getting it and need all the assistance in this.

“I told them that Rahul Gandhi is standing with them till they get justice and will not back down even an inch,” he told reporters.

Asked with whom does the responsibility lie in the case, Gandhi said, “I only know that it is my job to help them.”

Later, Gandhi posted a picture of his meeting with the girl’s parents on Twitter and wrote in Hindi, “Parents’ tears are saying only one thing — their daughter, the daughter of this country, deserves justice. And I am with them on this path to justice.”

Hitting out at Gandhi, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra accused him of using the case for “furthering” his political agenda, and asserted that the law and order machinery has moved swiftly to deliver justice to the girl’s family.

Patra told a press conference that his party had no issue with Gandhi, who visited the girl’s family earlier, calling for justice but what was condemnable was the Gandhi family’s “selectivism” as they never tweeted or spoke a word in the cases of atrocities against Dalit girls in the Congress-ruled states like Rajasthan, Punjab and Chhattisgarh.

He also accused Gandhi of violating the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act and another law dealing with juveniles by tweeting the picture of the girl’s parents as disclosing any aspect of a rape victim’s identity is an offence.

Meanwhile, the NCPCR sent a letter to the resident grievance officer of Twitter, saying it received a complaint that a photo of the girl’s family was posted on Gandhi’s Twitter handle with the caption stating that they are the father and the mother of the child.

“In the said photo, the faces of the victim’s father and mother can be seen which thereby reveals the identity of the girl,” the apex child rights body said.

“Therefore, posting of the photo of the minor victim’s family on the said Twitter handle has been observed by the commission to be a violation of Section 74 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, Section 23 of the POCSO Act, 2012, Section 228A of the IPC and the guidelines of the Hon’ble court as well,” it said.

Accordingly, the complaint is being forwarded for appropriate action against the Twitter handle… and removal of the tweet from the platform, it said.

Union minister Anurag Thakur while replying to a query on Gandhi’s visit questioned the “silence” of the former Congress chief on rape incidents in states ruled by his party.

Thakur said he would not like to comment on “who went to meet the victim’s family in Delhi or if it was for political reasons”.

He said when such rape incidents happen in many Congress-ruled states, some politicians like Rahul Gandhi have remained silent.

“It is unfortunate that they choose to see rapes and deaths of girls in those states where they are not in power and not in the states like Punjab and Rajasthan, where they have their governments,” Thakur told reporters.

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