Kotkhai Case: HP Govt commits another blunder in haste to calm down angry locals
Shimla – In the cluttered state of affairs, the Himachal Pradesh government finds itself cornered in the gruesome rape and murder of a school girl in Kotkhai Tehsil in Shimla. The Assembly polls are a few months away, and the government is in the state of panic owing to the current crisis.
Earlier, the statements of the Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh remained in controversy, and now the State government, in a failed attempt to calm down locals, took the decision to name a school in victim’s village after her real name.
The decision was expected to gain sympathy, but it turned out to be a silly decision taken in haste.
A few hours after the notification on July 22, Himachal Watcher (HW) had published a story titled “HP Govt names school after Kotkhai rape-murder victim’s real name against SC directions.”
HW referred to directions passed by the Supreme Court in this regard and pointed out that revealing the identity of a rape victim and survivor in any manner was legally prohibited under Section 228A of IPC.
As the victim was a minor, the decision also violated the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.
The government soon realized the blunder it committed by violating directions passed by the apex court in this regard and withdrew the notification wherein the school was named after the minor victim.
Before the notification was taken down, the information had reached the media. The HP Public Relation Office uploaded a press note regarding the official notification on their website on the same Day (July 22).
Interestingly, the HP Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has been warning about the use of minor victim’s photos in protests and on social media. The Commission has warned of stern action against the media and anyone who is found indulged in disclosing the identity of the victim. Amid it, it’s was a blunder by the government.
In another careless act, the press note, in which the name of the victim was clearly mentioned, is still available on HP DPR’s official website at the time of writing.
The press note clearly mentions that the State Government upgraded Government Middle School, Dhar Tarpunoo (Tali) in Kotkhai to Government Senior Secondary School. The school was made functional immediately. As per the notification, the step was taken in public interest.
The government is attracting further criticism from aware citizens and the opposition. Apparently, the government has failed to deal with such a sensitive case with the required level of sensitivity. The locals were already enraged over the alleged shoddy investigation. The killing of the Nepalese accused in police custody worsened the state of affairs and led to riots.
District Administration failed to find way out and deal with the chaos. The head of the district administration, the Deputy Commissioner, Rohan Chand Thakur, is already facing severe criticism for complete inaction. He was criticized over the fact that he did not make any efforts for confidence building in locals when it was the need of the hour.
The Kotkhai Police Station and staff that were injured could have been saved if the administration had directly approached the family and talked to the locals, say critics.
The government is facing the same situation in the case of late Hoshiyar Singh, the forest guard who had died under mysterious condition between June 5 to 9. The probes conducted by the State Police and CID were observed to be unconvincing by the Amicus Currie formed by the State High Court.
The head of the State government, CM Virbhadra Singh, is in no better state. The sub judice corruption case, the internal revolt by his party leaders, MLAs, and party chief are haunting him.