Even as the Surat police have arrested the accused, who molested a 13-year-old girl on a road on January 12, it has emerged that the FIR was filed without consulting a senior officer. The area falls under Signanpore Police Station in Surat.
The police assured a proper investigation into the case.
Acting swiftly after filing the FIR, the Surat Police, guided by DCP Pinakin Pamar, traced the whereabouts of the accused, Sohanlal. He was reportedly arrested from Banswada.
Surat Police Commissioner Ajay Tomar said a team of Surat Police had gone to Rajasthan. The accused is likely to be brought to Gujarat in a day.
However, the decision to name journalist Tushar Basiya in the FIR under POCSO and various sections of sexual harassment has received flak.
Basiya, associated with Navajivan News, had done a video story that carried CCTV footage of the incident. Basiya was targeted, even though the victim’s face was blurred to protect her identity. The accused was arrested within 48 hours of Basiya doing the story.
Basiya, who learned about the FIR through newspapers, told VOI that he was aware of various sections of the law when he had done the story. He claimed the FIR was filed instantly.
“The FIR was done in a hurry without consulting a senior officer. We will ensure a proper investigation,” Tomar told The Vibes of India
While the BJP declined to comment, the opposition Congress in Gujarat and the AAP criticised the FIR against the journalist, who has also been charged with harassment of women.
Social activists and lawyers were equally vocal about how the complaint was filed.
Gujarat Congress president Shaktisinh Gohil took to social media to express angst, saying the Surat Police strangulated democracy.
Gujarat AAP chief Isudan Gadhvi also condemned the FIR on social media, calling it condemnable and crossing the limits of dictatorship. Ghadavi observed that it’s not in the powers of PI to initiate such a step. She believes there must have been pressure from the top.
This journalist-turned-politician also pointed out the shortage in the police force and how lawbreakers go scot-free. He also demanded strict action against the person who lodged the FIR.
Lawyer Sonal Joshi remarked that the incident was an eye-opener, given that a journalist was targeted for merely doing his job. Emphasising that the victim’s photo was blurred, she said the police should be cognisant of such videos before filing the FIR.
She hopes the Minister of State for Home Harsh Sanghavi, who incidentally hails from Surat, would take appropriate action. She has suggested that the journalist must approach the Gujarat High Court and seek quashing of the FIR.
Shocked social activist Ruzan Khambatta observed that such incidents are incongruous with the spirit of Ram Rajya. She thanked the media for highlighting the case.
Questions have also been raised on FIRs based on a suo moto if families don’t lodge a complaint. Police inspector S J Rathod claimed the complainant was unwilling to file a complaint. However, Basiya has alleged the FIR was not filed for some other reasons.
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