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Assam IPS Officer, Charged With Child Sexual Assault, Appointed District Police Chief

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*Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault*

Gaurav Upadhyay, an IPS officer who was charge-sheeted by Assam Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) for allegedly sexually assaulting a colleague’s daughter, a 14-year-old girl, has been appointed as the new Superintendent of Police in Assam’s Chirang district.

The charge sheet, accessed by this author, was filed against him on 31 March this year under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to outrage modesty), 354A (sexual harassment) of the Indian Penal Code and section 10 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

Representative Image.

The case, filed by the victim’s mother on 3 January, 2020, in All Women PS Guwahati, was further investigated by the CID. The charge sheet was submitted before the Special Judge, POCSO Act Assam, Kamrup Metropolitan district.

The charge sheet mentioned that there was “sufficient evidence” to prove that the accused police officer “committed aggravated sexual assault as defined under section 9(a)(iv) and section 9(c) of the POCSO Act, 2012 as well as offences under sections 354 and 354A of the IPC”.

Further, it stated that “a prima facie case has been found well established to prosecute the accused police officer, namely, Gaurav Upadhyay… u/s [under section] 354/354A IPC, R/W [read with] Section 10 of the POCSO Act”.

“The charge sheet was filed after investigation and evidence revealed [Gaurav] Upadhyay’s involvement in the case. The allegations against him have been established,” said investigating officer Pradip Kumar Das, Dy. SP CID to the Hindustan Times. The charge sheet has also stated that the minor girl has encountered a “mentally traumatic experience” as a consequence of the assault.

Upadhyay, a 2012 batch IPS officer from Uttar Pradesh, was Superintendent of Police in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district when he allegedly sexually assaulted the minor. The alleged case of sexual assault happened on the intervening night of 31 December, 2019, and 1 January, 2020, during a party in the accused officer’s residence in Diphu, district headquarters of Karbi Anglong.

The complainant, also a senior police officer, had gone to Diphu with her minor daughter and a minor son to attend Upadhyay’s elder son’s birthday party. The charge sheet mentioned that the crime took place twice; first in Upadhyay’s office building near his residence after the party was over and second at the hotel room at around 2:30 a.m. on 1 January, 2020, where the victim and her mother were lodged as guests.

Later, the mother filed a case against Upadhyay in All Women Police Station in Guwahati on 3 January, 2020, which was further transferred to the CID to investigate.

Representative Image.

“The charge sheet is done…. If the court decides, he [the accused] will be arrested as per law. Until the decision is given by the court, we have to use his services,” said Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta to the Indian Express.

The Home Department, Assam, has come under criticism after the transfer of Upadhyay to Chirang district has come to the limelight. Earlier, soon after the FIR was filed against him in January last year, he was transferred back to Guwahati and was attached to Assam Police Headquarters.

Locals, however, have alleged that when the charge sheet has mentioned that the allegation against Upadhyay is “prima facie well-established”, then why did the Home Department entrust him to head the police of a district.

“If the allegations levelled are well established, then why hasn’t the police arrested him yet? He should not have been sent to head the police of a district. This sends a wrong message and the public will not be able to have faith in the police machinery” said a netizen on his Facebook post.

“It is a matter of serious concern that a police officer charged with sexual assault of a minor is given the responsibility of maintaining law and order of a district in Assam,” said former Silchar MP and All India Mahila Congress President Sushmita Dev in a letter to Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Dev, in the letter, wrote, “immediately suspend the appointment order of the said officer and ensure justice through a speedy investigation and trial”.

Upadhyay’s transfer is a part of Assam Police major reshuffling of SP-rank officers after the new government took charge in the state. Earlier in January this year, the Gauhati High Court had allowed Upadhyay a pre-arrest bail in the same case registered against him.

If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at dial1098@childlineindia.org.in. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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