The SI is the first officer in Kerala to face charges under the POCSO Act.

Child abuse in Kerala theatre SI arrested under POCSO released on bailImage courtesy: Mathrubhumi News
news Child abuse Tuesday, June 05, 2018 - 14:57

Changaramkulam SI KG Baby who was suspended following inaction against the main accused in the abuse of a 10-year-old girl inside a cinema hall in Eddapal, Malappuram, was arrested on Tuesday for failing to register a case. He was later released on bail, according to reports.

The SI was suspended earlier in connection with the same case. He had been charged under Section 19 of the POCSO Act, which requires mandatory and prompt reporting of cases of child sexual abuse.

Baby became the first officer in Kerala to be charged under the POCSO Act, following his suspension from the post of SI on Sunday. The action was taken by the District Superintendent of Police, Debeshkumar Behera, according to a report in The Hindu

The incident happened on April 18 and was caught on a night-vision surveillance camera at the movie theatre. A 60-year-old man, identified as Moideen Kutty Pattambi, was seen sitting in a theatre and sexually abusing the child. The man, flanked by the mother and the child on either side, could be seen indulging in sexual acts with both of them while the film was being screened.

The theatre owner informed Childline authorities on April 19 and handed over the footage to them later. After examining the footage, Childline handed it over to the Changaramkulam police on the same day. However, police did not take prompt action in the case, forcing Childline to approach Mathrubhumi channel on May 12, with blurred portions of the visual. 

The police faced severe criticism from the State Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, for their failure to take prompt action against the accused, despite having in possession the CCTV footage of the incident in the cinema hall. Relevant sections of the POCSO Act have also been slapped on the main accused Moideen Kutty and the child's mother, who was complicit in the abuse. 

Meanwhile, the police also tried to pass the buck onto the theatre owner and arrested him for 'leaking' the footage and failing to inform the police immediately. The cinema hall owner, Satheesh, had in fact informed the Childline authorities immediately after getting wind of the incident on April 18. The footage was submitted to the Childline again on April 25. The Childline in turn approached the Changaramkulam police on the same day and handed over the visuals to the cops. 

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