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Dikshit, cops trade salvos in rape case

- Scanner on police role during recording of victim’s statement

New Delhi, Dec. 25: A war of words has broken out between Sheila Dikshit and Delhi police following the leak of a purported letter from the chief minister to the Union home minister questioning the police’s role during the recording of the bus-rape victim’s statement.

According to media reports, Dikshit has told Sushil Kumar Shinde that some senior police officers had “interfered” in the process and demanded an inquiry by his ministry, which oversees policing in the capital.

Denying the charge, police commissioner Neeraj Kumar today demanded a probe into the media leak of the chief minister’s purported letter, while appearing to criticise Dikshit.

“The statement was recorded on December 23, and the complaint letter was sent to the home minister on Monday. Before shooting off the complaint, they should have asked the police’s version,” Kumar said.

“It is unfortunate. Such kinds of things affect police investigation. Also, the contents have been made known to the media.”

Following the controversy, a metropolitan magistrate today recorded the victim’s statement afresh, video-graphing the entire proceedings.

Neither Dikshit nor Shinde have confirmed the existence or the contents of the letter but sources in the Delhi government and the Union home ministry have.

“We have taken (Dikshit’s) complaint very seriously and are likely to order a probe,” a senior ministry official said.

After the December 16 bus rape, Dikshit had demanded Kumar’s removal and made it clear that her government could not be held responsible for any lapses by a force that reported to the Union home ministry. She has for sometime been making a strong pitch for bringing the city police under the Delhi government.

The letter purportedly cites a complaint by subdivisional magistrate Usha Chaturvedi, who recorded the rape victim’s statement at Safdarjung Hospital on Sunday.

Chaturvedi has apparently accused three senior police officers of preventing the victim’s statement being video-recorded. She is also said to have alleged that the police officers present at the hospital (but not at the ICU where the statement was recorded) wanted her to use a questionnaire prepared by them.

“When she refused, the officers misbehaved with her,” a Delhi government official claimed.

Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said: “We deny all the allegations made by the SDM and also demand a high-level inquiry into the leak of the secret letter written by the chief minister.”

Senior police officers expressed unhappiness at Dikshit’s charge and accused her of raking up a “non-issue” by writing to Shinde.

“The statements of the rape victim and her mother were recorded by the SDM. If she felt that something was wrong with the process, why did she record the statements at all?” commissioner Kumar said.

He denied the police had prevented the video-recording, saying it was the victim’s mother who had objected, mistaking the SDM’s camera team for journalists.

“It was the police who had insisted that the girl’s statement be recorded as her condition was getting worse,” Kumar said.