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The most recent brutal murder of a very small child in village Tappal  in Aligarh, has sent shock waves all across the country raising several questions about this grotesque and perverted act exposing how sick our society is drifting to. This is said because of the horrendous manner in which the little girl child was done away with. 

The local police, under the directions of the police leadership, based in state capital Lucknow acted rather swiftly and in a lightning action arrested two named accused Zahid and Aslam without any delay and on June 8, again acting on an extraordinary speed, apprehended Zahid’s wife Zabusta and younger brother Mehdi Hasan from neighbouring Khurja thus rounding up all the important suspects. 

Acting swiftly again, those cops responsible for dereliction of duty were summarily suspended amid allegations levelled by the victim’s mother that once her child was missing, she complained to the local police who failed to react on time, rather overlooked the pleas. 

Meanwhile, the UP police formed a Special Investigation Squad (SIS) comprising senior officer for a deeper probe to ascertain the circumstances leading to this unfortunate act of murder. Also, plans are afoot to book the accused under the National Security Act (NSA) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) 2012. These are effective acts and should act as a deterrent to prevent recurrences of similar kind. Yet, the main focus should be on a thorough investigation so that the accused don’t end up in acquittals.

The above is imperative as one is not really sure about the investigative skills of those exercising an oversight into this heinous case. We have unpleasant memories of the Aarushi murder case where a common man is still not convinced about the verdict whether Aarushi’s parents, the Talwars were actually guilty or not. The scene remains hazy and far from a decisive judgment. Few years earlier of Aarushi case, there were the Nithari killings and initially the investigation, like the Aarushi case, looked vague. The approach sadly was bereft of any professionalism. Without meaning to cast any aspersions on the professional efficacy of the investigative forte of the UP Police, in the fresh case of child’s murder in Aligarh merits a very dedicated approach. 

Here, it is pertinent to state that the main accused in the child’s abduction and murder already has four criminal cases against him dating back to 2014.  He was charged under sections 376 (rape), 354 (attempt to outrage modesty) and section 363 (kidnapping) of the Indian Penal Code. Most horrible among these cases is the accused’s attempt to rape his own daughter. Nothing can be more horrendous than that. The motive of the murder is also baffling. It is said to be related to transaction of money between complainant and accused’s families. The alleged amount of money due to the accused was a partly 10,000. This exposes the mental state of the accused and his sense of desperation to avenge. Definitely, he has a violent streak which only a psychiatrist can determine. 

Sadly, he was out in bail. Its now a serious food for thought that he was left off the hook so easily. It raises multiple questions. How serious was the prosecution to oppose his bail plea? Were the court proceedings in order? Was a psychiatrist consulted for a clinical examination of the accused who had the perverted inclination to violate his own daughter? Wasn’t there any accountability of the segment of judiciary granting him bail or showing such legal leniency? Police is always under criticism for doing sloppy investigations calling for police reforms but what about the lapses or slackness in the judiciary? Here perhaps stands a fit case for a fresh appraisal of the judicial acts leading to large number of grant of bails and acquittals. 

The prosecutors too need to be held to account for any loose pursuit of a case of murder that too of a very small child in a most inhuman manner. Had these loopholes been attended, this murder wouldn’t have happened. The offender was most likely emboldened by the prevailing fragile legal system and dared to repeat yet another ghastly act within 5 years of his first offence of such a grievous nature. In any case, such pervert elements who act as rabid lunatics should ideally have no place in a civilised society. They need to be dealt very harshly lest they are encumbrances on us. As per the indications available now, the UP administration is trying to ensure that there is no complacency and the culprits receive maximum punitive action. 

Civil Societies, Sociologists, and people of social eminence are also expected to come in and prescribe ways to deal with this growing malaise which is not only confined within Aligarh. Its a pan India problem. Many, in the meantime, are expressing surprises over the perceived silence of many celebrities specially those belonging to the Bollywood as also from the academics who are otherwise vocal on such sensitive issues. Its a social responsibility and these elements must work in close collaboration with the police so that there is a holistic approach to the existing problem and there are no cases of fatally targeting such small and innocent children.

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(Writer is a retired IPS officer of the UP cadre, a security analyst and columnist on topical issues. Views expressed are personal)

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