TWO DAYS after they forced their way into Snehalaya, the children’s shelter, Mayor Asha Jaswal and two BJP councillors were among those booked for trespassing and violating provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to meet a victim of sexual assault. Snehalaya is a home for destitute and abandoned children at Maloya. The mayor and two councillors — Rajesh Kalia and Ravi Kant Sharma — visited Snehalaya on February 3. Chandigarh SSP Eish Singhal said a case against the mayor and two other councillors was registered after taking legal opinion. The FIR was registered on the complaint of Nishu Singhal, director, Social Welfare Department.
The mayor and the two councillors, along with media and members of the public, had entered Snehalaya without permission.
The complaint mentions that the mayor’s visit to meet the victim was in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act 2015, as the visitors can meet the children only in the presence of the child welfare officer.
As per the complaint, the visitors also allegedly videotaped the employees present at the shelter home who were made to stand in a queue.
DSP (south) Deepak Yadav said when Mayor Asha Jaswal along with the others visited the shelter house, no police personnel was present at the spot. The accused would be summoned after completing a preliminary investigation.
The police have not made any arrests in the case so far. The case was registered at Maloya police station.
The Congress has demanded that Jaswal resign immediately.
Congress city president Pardeep Chhabra said, “Despite being educated and a lawyer herself, she should have known provisions of the law. Only for cheap popularity, she even disclosed the identity of the victim of sexual abuse. She is not fit to be mayor and should resign immediately.”
However, Mayor Asha Jaswal said she would write to the higher authorities against the staff of Snehalaya.
Talking to Chandigarh Newsline, Jaswal said, “I had just gone to meet the children. I was received by the staff there. My entry is there. So how can this be called trespassing? I was shocked to see that they had isolated the child in a closed-door room while everybody else was playing. I asked them for the complaint mentioning about the crime with the child and they did not give it to me. I got to know what was going on there and in order to save their skin, they cooked up this story.”
Due to the case, the mayor cancelled her programmes scheduled for Sunday.
“I was busy in preparing the formal letters which I have to send to the higher authorities regarding this staff. So I called up people that I wouldn’t be able to attend the functions today,” the mayor said.
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