‘Caught with friend’, girl kills self, boy held without FIR

This Republic Day, a Raipur family left for their village with the body of their eldest daughter. Hours earlier, Megha Sahu (15) had committed suicide after the police "caught" her with a friend in a park, took them to police station, "counselled" them, called their parents, and handed them over. Minutes after reaching home, the Class X student locked herself in a room and set herself afire. The police arrested her friend, Ravi Tandi (19), even before he could reach home. There is no FIR or case against him, it's just a preventive arrest, say the police.

"She had left for Republic Day celebrations in school. Around 11 am, the police called me to take my daughter. They asked me to write an application and take her home. I and her mother brought her. She went inside her room and...," says father Tikaram Sahu. "Perhaps she was scared, embarrassed to face us," he adds, controlling his tears. Megha sustained 80-90 per cent burns and died on the spot. The family immediately took her body to their village, Khorpa, 30 km from Raipur, for final rites.

Says Sahu, "I do not know what they (police) did to her. I did not have a chance to speak to her. The policemen told her, 'your father hasn't said anything to you, anyone else would have slapped you'."

The police refuted harassment charges and claimed that there were genuine reasons to apprehend them. "They were seen doing suspicious activities. Boys often exploit young girls. We brought them to Mahila Thana and handed over to their parents," says ASP (Traffic) Shweta Sinha.

"Humiliation and insult have become part of our system in such cases. You take a child to police station and call her parents, it insults her and lowers her self esteem. In the name of correction and counselling, our system only instills fear. Such counselling forces them to accept that they have committed a major crime," says psychologist Amba Sethi.

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