The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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DNA acquittal steers rape slur on jail staff

With the DNA tests carried out on the three constables, accused of raping a deaf and mute girl in a prison van three years ago, coming negative, the Presidency jail authorities are in a spot, as the development implies the involvement of their own employees.

The girl was lodged in Presidency jail in August 2000, on charges of vagrancy. But she hit the headlines when she was raped in a prison van on her way to court from jail for a routine production. On her return, she complained of being sexually assaulted, triggering a debate on whether she was raped in the jail or outside it.

The government ordered deputy inspector-general (CID) V.V. Thambi to probe the allegation, as both jail officials and the policemen pointed fingers at each other.

Though the CID investigation indicted head constable Jagabandhu Seth, constable Brojo Singh and van driver Biswanath Ghosh, who were later suspended, the case took a new turn after three years, when the trio filed a petition in Calcutta High Court on August 7, claiming they were falsely implicated.

The petition was filed after the DNA tests, conducted by the CID on the basis of a high court order, returned negative. The constables’ lawyer also pleaded that all three should be allowed to rejoin duty.

“The results of the DNA tests carried out on the constables are really shocking. I still remember that the girl, on her return to the jail from court, clearly indicated that the policemen who had accompanied her to court had raped her. I also came to know from the jail employees that they were in no way involved in the case, ” said Parimal Das, who was then superintendent of Presidency jail.

Das, now posted as deputy inspector-general of prisons, north Bengal, told Metro from Siliguri last week that the jail authorities could not be blamed on the basis of the results of the DNA tests. “If the girl herself indicated that she was raped by the three constables on the way to court, how could the DNA tests absolve them of the rape charge' Moreover, the investigation was conducted by a senior CID official and not by any prison staff,” he added.

S.R. Hussain, superintendent of the jail, said on Sunday that he had heard about the case involving the policemen. He also claimed to have papers ready to substantiate the charges against the constables.

“We don’t mind interrogating jail employees once again, but I still believe that they were not involved in the rape,” reiterated Anup Tripathi, deputy inspector-general of prisons.

In a related development, wiser after the event, jail officials have made it mandatory for a female warder to escort a female convict whenever she is taken to court for routine production. “We have some lapses in providing escort to female convicts. But we are serious about deploying female escorts, as well as women police, whenever a woman prisoner is taken to the courts,” observed Tripathi.

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