3 June 2023. A POCSO court in Jhargram convicted four accused in the gang-rape of a teenage girl. Apart from the victim and his family, the Jhargram police breathed a sigh of relief that day. But Gopivallabhpur police station IC Sudeep Bandyepadhyay felt that justice and financial compensation — everything. But rehabilitation? Money is needed, but it won’t do it all.
So he was trying during the case so that the girl could go back to school and return to her normal life. That battle off the court was perhaps even more difficult. Because that 15-year-old girl is not mentally mature. There are also some physical problems. So understanding too late, yawning too often, not being able to fully express myself — all these were hindrances.
But he got the Panchdashi back into school after crossing that obstacle. Besides, his trauma counseling is also going on under the instructions of CWC. In Sudeep’s words, ‘We also go to his house regularly. Talk to him. He is slowly returning to his life.’
From identifying the accused by showing the victim’s job card photo for 100 days to filing an FIR to settling the case in less than a year — Sudeep’s role in every case was significant (the news broke ‘this time’). This year’s ‘Police Bravery Award for the Best Child Friendly Police Personnel’ has been awarded by the West Bengal Child Rights Protection Commission in recognition of this.
How hard was this case? Sudeep said to ‘This Time’, ‘Actually he has a problem in understanding. That’s why she didn’t understand being repeatedly gang-raped or getting pregnant. Her mother informed the police after seeing her daughter’s physical changes. The girl did not even understand the trial proceedings. As a result, it was very difficult to get him to testify in the witness box. But he was able to do it after many attempts.
Why did he take initiative to rehabilitate the girl? He explained that he already had some problems. His parents also have to go out for work. So it is our social responsibility and duty to see him so that he does not fall into any danger again. So every effort is being made.
However, even after re-admission to the school, Sudeep is not very secure. Because that girl doesn’t feel like doing class. From the headmaster of the school, other teachers and several police personnel are helping him as much as possible. In the words of this inspector, ‘Disha coaching centers have been started in many places of the district on the initiative of SP Sir (Arijit Sinha).
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Basically it is meant to expose children to reading outside of school hours. It is not possible for him to go there. So the policemen help him in his studies by going home.’
In this way, Sudeep wants to show the girl direction. However, he is not willing to take credit alone. He said, ‘SP sir has guided this case from the beginning to the end. Nothing would have happened without that.’ And the short answer about ‘child-friendly’ recognition, ‘It will increase confidence. It will inspire further investigations. As I have been doing everything sincerely for so long, I will do that.’