Mumbai: In a controversial action, over 100 men were strip-searched by police at Mira-Bhayandar in neighbouring Thane district to locate any struggle mark on their bodies in connection with the rape and murder of a minor girl five days ago.
A six-year-old girl was raped and murdered and her body dumped in a drain at Bhayandar. The body was found on June 13. Although the stripping of men did not yield results for the police, the intensive search of the area launched by them led to the recovery of the victim’s blood stained undergarments from the house of one Prakash Kevat. He was arrested and has been remanded in police custody till June 23, police said.
Thane Superintendent of Police Vishwas Nagre Patil said the men were strip-searched to investigate the case. However he denied any violation of human rights.
“We combed the entire area. We stripped over 100 men to find out if any of them had scratch marks on their bodies. However, there has been no human rights violation,” Patil said.
However, activists and lawyers have alleged it constituted gross violation of human rights and the law.
Criminal lawyer Sushan Kunjuraman said that by asking the men to strip, police have exceeded their brief. “This is a clear case of human rights violation. If the police suspected any person of involvement, they should have taken him into custody and interrogated him,” he said.
Maintaining that stripping at random is not permissible under the law, he said the state human rights commission should take suo moto cognizance of this.
Human rights activist and lawyer P S Sebastian said there is no law that authorises the police to strip people. “This is totally unlawful and violation of human rights. Action should be taken against the police officials responsible for this,” Sebastian said.
According to the police, when they were combing the area they found one house locked. On suspicion, they opened the house and found the victim’s undergarments there. Police learnt that the house belonged to Kevat who was then arrested after he returned home from work.