Row over assault-accused cop post in lower Assam
Women’s organisations have expressed concern over the posting of an IPS officer, chargesheeted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act, as the superintendent of police of Chirang district in lower Assam.
The officer has been accused of sexually assaulting the 13-year-old daughter of a colleague when he was the police chief of Karbi Anglong district where the alleged incident took place in December 2019.
On May 14, the 2012-batch IPS officer Gaurav Upadhyay was transferred and posted as Chirang SP in the “interest of public service” by the state home department. He was earlier holding the post of assistant inspector-general (law and order) in Guwahati.
In a letter to chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who also holds the home department, All India Mahila Congress president Sushmita Dev, has expressed “serious concern” over a police officer, accused under the Pocso Act for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor, being “given responsibility” of maintaining law and order of an Assam district.
Upadhyay was one of the officers transferred in the first police reshuffle carried out by the BJP-led coalition government in the state after winning a second straight term on
“The state of women’s security in Assam has only worsened in the last few years with the state topping the list of crimes against women in India... The people of Assam expect and deserve a safe and secure Assam while this action proves otherwise. I request you to immediately suspend the appointment order of the said officer and ensure justice through a speedy investigation and trial,” Sushmita wrote.
The alleged sexual assault took place on December 31, 2019, at the official residence of Upadhyay at Diphu when he was the Karbi Anglong SP. He had invited the complainant to attend the birthday party of his son.
The complainant had attended the party with young children. The case of sexual assault was registered on January 3, 2020, at the all-women’s police station in Panbazar here.
The CID probed the case and filed the chargesheet on March 31, 2021, under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to outrage modesty) and 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code and relevant provisions of the Pocso Act.
Sushmita’s letter also said: “The chargesheet, accessed by news portals, mentions that ‘sufficient evidence’ had been found to prove that the accused ‘committed aggravated sexual assault’ as defined under section 9(a)(iv) and section 9(c) of the Pocso Act, 2012, as well as offences under Sections 354 and 354 A of IPC.”
The North East Network (NEN), a Guwahati-based women’s rights organisation, said any transfer, promotion and training of officers charged with alleged cases of sexual harassment on women and children should be kept on hold till they are proven innocent by the judiciary.
Anurita Pathak, state coordinator of the NEN, told The Telegraph: “In the context of issues of safety assured by the law enforcement agencies, it becomes all the more important to have leadership bereft of such charges. This restores and strengthens people’s faith in the formal systems. Moreover, court and even departmental inquires on cases of sexual harassment must be expedited in a time-bound manner. This again will only reaffirm the departments’ commitment to gender justice.”
Reacting to the development, a senior police official said the chargesheet has already been filed in the case and the matter was now sub judice.
The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights too said the matter was sub judice but the organisation had done whatever was required of it when the case was brought to its notice.
When contacted, the 39-year-old Upadhyay, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, also refused to comment on the case since it is sub judice except that he has “full faith” in the judiciary.
However, police sources familiar with the proceedings, said Upadhyay has received “absolute bail” in the case from Gauhati High Court, which has also “dropped” a few sections slapped against him but did not elaborate.