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POCSO Act case against Imam: 8-year-old girl was sexually assaulted thrice, says family

The victim, a Class V student, keeps crying, according to her mother. “She was scared of telling us about the assault. I wish she had told us before,” said the father.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
October 25, 2017 12:25:19 am

The eight-year-old girl, who was allegedly raped by a 50-year-old imam in the Chowki Mohalla mosque in Nagpada, is learnt to have told her family she was sexually assaulted at least thrice before she finally confided in her elder sister about it. On Tuesday, the JJ Marg police sent accused Abdullah Naji for medical examination to JJ hospital. He has been remanded in police custody for four days.

According to the victim’s father, his four children went to the madrasa at Shafi mosque, a lane away from their house in Chowki Mohalla. His two daughters, aged 12 and 8, had been attending a 3 pm class daily for six months. “We knew the imam well. In fact, my brother regularly visited him,” said the father, a businessman dealing in cement and sand.

On October 9, the sisters returned home and the victim complained of abdominal pain. She reportedly confided in her elder sister who then told their mother about the matter. According to the family, the elder sister would often be given a mobile phone by the imam to play games outside the madrasa room.

“I was in Nashik on October 9. I returned the next day. I remember that my wife woke me up from sleep and said she had something urgent to discuss. When she told me that the imam had done something to our daughter, I thought she was wrong. How could an imam do such a thing,” said the father.

He claims he brought his daughter home from school on October 10 and found her shivering and scared. The couple decided to first approach a private doctor before filing a police complaint. “Ek taraf qaum hai, ek taraf beti (the religious community is on one side, and my daughter on the other),” he said.

The parents finally filed a police complaint on October 14. A medical examination at the JJ hospital confirmed the victim had a “history of sexual assault”. Doctors have collected her vaginal swab and forensic evidence for further tests.

The victim’s mother says she is determined to pursue the case even if locals put pressure to withdraw the complaint. Naji has temporarily stepped down from the imam’s post at the Shafi mosque. On Monday, he surrendered to the JJ Marg police after remaining at large for a week. He is a native of Neral, where the ancestors of Naji family are known to own several plots of land.

The victim, a Class V student, keeps crying, according to her mother. “She was scared of telling us about the assault. I wish she had told us before,” said the father.

The JJ Marg police have scanned CCTV footage from in and around the mosque. “There was no camera inside the madrasa room. But we studied the camera on the road, and the timing of entry and exit of the girl corroborates with the victim’s account,” said a senior officer.

The imam, said the police, resided on the mosque premises. He would take classes from 8 am till evening. The victim and her sister had to opt for separate classes because the elder one had undergone a surgery and could not climb stairs.

The imam had agreed to teach them separately on the ground floor of the mosque, according to the police.

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