For a month after seven-year-old Rishabh’s body was found lying face down with charcoal black feet, his mother and grandfather allegedly kept running pillar to post to register an FIR in the case. Eventually, it took the intervention of two Members of Parliament for the police to act. Rishabh was electrocuted at the temporary CPWD office in Meena Bagh on July 23 while trying to climb a neem tree there. According to police, the boy lost his balance and tried to place his feet at the back of an air conditioning unit.
But with police allegedly dragging its feet on filing the FIR, the MP from Lakshadweep, P P Mohammed Faizal of the Nationalist Congress Party, and BJP MP Vinod Sonkar, who represents Kaushambi constituency, had to intervene.
“I saw him lying face down. I thought he was hiding from his mother. I kept calling him and tried to tell him that his mother will not scold him. Then I noticed some sparks fly from his ankle, and I found that he had been electrocuted,” said Meera Devi, a domestic help who was the first to spot Rishabh.
A crowd gathered at the spot and tried to free the boy, whose feet were reportedly stuck to the air conditioner. “I was cooking food at Mohammed Faizal’s house when my son died. I kept looking for him in the neighbourhood, when Meera took me to my son. His feet had burn marks and his entire body had turned blue; he must have died painfully,” said Sadhna, Rishabh’s mother.
After a group of three men separated his body from the AC with a bamboo stick, the boy was taken to RML Hospital, where doctors declared him brought dead. Later, the body was taken to Lady Hardinge hospital. The family alleged that the post-mortem report was ready the next day, but police kept “delaying” it, which prompted them to seek Faizal’s help.
“The family used to work at my house. They told me the police had been deliberately delaying handing over the PM report, after which I spoke to the police. I do not know why there was a delay in the report,” Faizal told The Indian Express.
Since he had to leave for Haj pilgrimage, and could not look into the case personally, he handed over the responsibility to Sonkar, his neighbour.
The family claimed it hit another roadblock in trying to get an FIR registered. “Police kept telling us nothing will happen. We just wanted justice for Rishabh. I visited Tughlak Road police station seven to eight times and they refused to register an FIR,” alleged Anjali Kumar, Rishabh’s grandfather.
Sonkar then called up senior police officers at the New Delhi district to take action in the case, after which the FIR was registered under IPC Section 304 (a) (causing death by negligence) on August 26. “The boy died near my house. I took it upon myself to make sure the police took action for the sake of humanity. They were not interested in registering a case,” Sonkar alleged.
Police, however, claimed that the CPWD did not appear to be at fault during prima facie investigation. “The family of the deceased never wanted to register a case. If you look at the records, you will find that we had proceeded with the inquest proceedings under section 174 CrPC. We are investigating the death of the boy,” said DCP (New Delhi) B K Singh.
The family says there should have been guards posted at the facility, which would have ensured Rishabh never got close to the air conditioning unit.
“We want the police to take action against those responsible for the lack of security. There should have been guards posted, who could have stopped Rishabh from climbing the tree,” his mother said.