CHENNAI: A police constable was arrested recently for marrying a 17-year-old girl. The girl was rescued after she managed to contact a child helpline number. But, the child welfare officers alleged that the police were reluctant in taking quick action and the case was filed after a delay of three days after they were informed.
The accused, Pazhani Kumar, a 27-year-old constable attached to the Madhavaram Milk Colony police station, was posted as driver to a police inspector. On May 17, Pazhani Kumar, at his native village in Madurai, had married a class 12 girl in the presence of his family. The duo were staying in Madhavaram police quarters from May 23.
On May 30, the girl managed to contact child helpline (1098) and sought help as she was forced into the marriage. The information was passed on to officials in the child welfare agencies and in turn to the Chennai police. However, sources said for the next two days, no action was taken to rescue the girl or arrest the accused.
On June 1, officials ranging from District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO), District Child Protection Officer (DCPO), and Child Welfare Committee (CWC) visited the corresponding All Women Police Station. “During the visit, the police officer in-charge said that he will only file a CSR even as the POCSO Act mandates immediate registration of a case,” said one of the members. While the Collector was informed, the police officer had alleged that he could not file an FIR without the approval of city police commissioner as the accused is a police personnel. On Tuesday midnight, the police secured the accused and the girl whom he had hidden in a relative’s house.
“However, instead of taking the victim to the hospital for medical checkup, the police team sent her to the Child Care Institute. The next day, after I came to know, we made the police take the girl for a medical checkup,” said one of the members who assisted the girl. Hence, after much deliberation on Wednesday evening, an FIR under POCSO Act was registered and the accused was arrested on Thursday, four days after the police got the information.
The member also said that the accused had coerced the girl to make a statement that she willingly asked for marriage and that she did not contact the child helpline. While the statement that she willingly accepted the marriage does not have an impact on the conviction, the accused and his family had encouraged the girl to provide the coerced version to the magistrate,” said the source. When contacted, a senior police officer said, “There has been no delay in the arrest. The accused was indeed absconding. It is usual that during cases related to child protection, there could be misunderstanding in interdepartmental cooperation.”
Girl contacted helpline
On May 30, the girl managed to contact child helpline (1098) and sought help as she was forced into the marriage. The information was passed on to officials in the child welfare agencies and in turn to the Chennai police. The information was passed on to officials in the child welfare agencies