Row over abuse victim’s death

Child Welfare Committee, District Child Protection Unit launch probe

Acrimonious scenes were witnessed in front of the Child Welfare Committee office at Thrikkakara on Wednesday morning after the relatives of a sexual abuse victim, a 14-year-old girl suffering from retardation, staged a protest with her body alleging mystery behind her death.

The girl reportedly collapsed and died at a child care institute in the city on Monday afternoon. She was shifted to the institute two years ago after she was sexually abused. Her father and his friend were arrested under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. The Child Welfare Committee and the District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) have launched a probe and sought all records, including medical ones, pertaining to the deceased.

“The Child Welfare Committee kept the relatives in the dark about her whereabouts and denied them visiting rights, only to contact them about her death. A detailed investigation should be held to bring out the truth,” said Vaisakh Darshan, State general secretary of the Youth Congress, who claimed to be the victim’s relative and led the protest.

‘Falsely implicated’

He alleged that the father had been falsely implicated and that the death could have been part of a ploy to prevent her from giving statements in a POCSO court where the trial of the case was under way.

Child Welfare Committee chairperson Bitty K. Joseph ruled out foul play. “She was moved to the institute registered under the Juvenile Justice Act as per a report of the Special Juvenile Police Unit,” she said.

Ms. Joseph said they came to know about the incident only after the death, following which the North police were alerted, who registered a case for unnatural death. “We came to know that the girl wasn’t well for a over week and was being treated at a clinic near the institute before she suddenly died. The post-mortem examination report reveals that she had pneumonia and chest infection,” North police sources said.

No information

Ms. Joseph said a WhatsApp group involving all child care institutes was active where institutional authorities had been asked to share any serious medical condition of the inmates immediately.

“The group is monitored daily. But nothing was reported about the victim’s health in the group. According to the institution authorities, she collapsed and died while having a biscuit,” she said.

The protesters disbursed after a police team led by Thrikkakara Assistant Commissioner assured them of necessary action.

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