An official from the Child Welfare Committee told TNM that they are protecting the victim under the legal provision known as CNCP or Child in Need of Care and Protection (Section 2 of Juvenile Justice).

Medical reports confirm minor was sexually assaulted Accused Imam yet to be arrested
news Sexual Assault Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 19:09

It’s been almost 10 days since a 15-year-old girl in Kerala was sexually assaulted. An Imam, who is the prime accused in the case, has still not been arrested. D Ashokan, the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) of Nedumangad in Thiruvananthapuram has confirmed to TNM that the medical reports of the victim confirmed that she was sexually assaulted.

A case was registered against the accused, Shafiq Al Qassimi, Chief Imam of the Tholicode Muslim Mosque and a member of the Kerala Imams Council only on Tuesday, based on a complaint by the President of the Tholicode Muslim Mosque.

The Imam is known to have taken the victim into his car while she was on her way back from school, after which he took her to an isolated forest area in a place called Vithura in Thiruvananthapuram where he allegedly sexually assaulted her.

When TNM questioned the Nedumangad DySP as to why the Imam was still not arrested despite a case being filed against him, the DySP said, “he is absconding, but we are in search of him.”

When reports about the sexual assault started doing the rounds initially, TNM had contacted the Vithura police on February 8 to find out whether a case was registered against the Imam. An official in the police station said that they had approached the girl and the family to get their statements but they denied the incident.

But on Thursday, an official from the DySP office told TNM that the victim had deposed before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) about what had happened.

When TNM approached the CWC on Thursday, the officials said that they are protecting the victim under the legal provision known as CNCP or Child in Need of Care and Protection (Section 2 of Juvenile Justice) and that they cannot disclose any details about the victim’s deposition.

“The reports that the victim and her family kept denying that the incident took place is true and that is why the CWC took up the case and approached the victim, following which she has opened up to our counsellor,” said an official at the CWC office in Thiruvananthapuram.

Meanwhile, there have been reports doing the rounds that the relationship was consensual, but according to the Indian law, this is immaterial.

Speaking to TNM, advocate Sandhya, former member of the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said that if the person is below 18-years-old, the consent of the person is immaterial. “Any kind of sexual activity with a child with or without the consent amounts to abuse. As per law, any kind of sexual relationships with a minor is banned in India and is a punishable offence,” said Sandhya.

The incident of the abuse came to to the limelight after the All India Imams Council in a Facebook post on February 5 announced that it has suspended one of their state committee members as a “disciplinary action”. However, it was only later that it was found that he sexually assaulted a minor.

Also read: ‘He said 15-yr-old was his wife’: Witnesses on sexual assault accused Imam in Kerala

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