Dikshit, Delhi Police spar over rape victim's statement

New Delhi, Dec 25 (IANS) The fight between Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and the Delhi Police heated up Tuesday as she sought a "high-level independent inquiry" against senior police officers for "interfering" while the statement of the gang-rape victim was being recorded.

A Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) had recorded the statement of the 23-year-old woman at Safdarjung Hospital here. The victim was gang-raped by six men in a moving bus Dec 16.

Delhi Police denied the allegation, blaming the SDM for being callous while recording the statement.

A fresh statement of the victim was recorded Tuesday by a judicial magistrate. Details of the statement have not been revealed.

The chief minister made the appeal to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, to whose ministry Delhi Police reports.

In her letter, Dikshit cited a complaint from SDM Usha Chaturvedi, who had recorded the woman's statement at the Safdarjung Hospital earlier.

Chaturvedi's complaint was forwarded to Dikshit by Deputy Commissioner of Police (East) B.M. Mishra.

Without naming anyone, Mishra said Chaturvedi faced "interference" from assistant commissioners of police of Defence Colony and Vasant Vihar police stations and deputy commissioners of South Delhi while recording the rape victim's statement.

Chaturvedi alleged she was provided a questionnaire by Delhi Police and the officers tried to pressure her to record the statement according to them.

Police also allegedly put pressure on her not to videograph the victim's statement.

Dikshit told the home minister: "I suggest a high-level independent inquiry considering the officers involved."

Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar however the charge and said the SDM, when initially approached for recording the statement, said she was "busy" and could come only by 6 p.m.

"Later, she said there was pressure on her so she would come at 5 p.m. She came to Delhi Police headquarters, from where she was escorted (to the hospital) by ACP Vasant Vihar," he said.

"She demanded a briefing on the incident, which was provided," Kumar said.

The police commissioner said this was the third incident of strife between Chaturvedi and Delhi Police. Earlier, there was friction over recording statements in the Khora colony riot of Sep 2, 2012, and in the Karkardooma banquet hall fire incident.

"If the situation was not suitable for recording the statement, she should not have recorded it," Kumar said.

"She made no complaint to us. Then all of a sudden, we were told a complaint was filed and a copy of the complaint was given to the media. It can affect the investigation," he said.

The commissioner also refuted allegations that police was against videographing the victim's statement.

"The victim's family gave in writing that they did not want it to be videographed," he said.

Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat had earlier demanded a probe into the leakage of the letter.

"We want to ask how a top secret letter reached the media. There should be a probe where it was leaked from. There was no advice or pressure from our side (to the magistrate). The SDM recorded the statement and any kind of allegation is totally wrong," Bhagat said.

He said none of the police officers were present when the statement was recorded.

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