Delhi govt officer accused of repeatedly raping minor arrested along with wife

New Delhi: Police on Monday arrested a Delhi government officer, who allegedly raped a minor several times and impregnated her, and his wife after questioning them and recording the statement of the victim, officials said.

Shortly before he was arrested in the case which was registered on August 13, Premoday Khakha was suspended from his post as deputy director in Women and Child Development (WCD) Department following a direction from Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

Khakha and his wife Seema Rani are residents of Shakti Enclave in the Burari area, the police said, adding the girl was staying at the residence of the accused, a family friend whom she calls ‘mama’, after her father passed away on October 1, 2020, the police said.

The accused, an ex-cadre officer, had allegedly raped the girl several times between November 2020 and January 2021. His wife has also been charged with giving the girl medicine to terminate her pregnancy, they said.

“Both Khakha and his wife have been arrested in connection with the case. The case was registered on August 13,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (north) Sagar Singh Kalsi.

The couple was detained for questioning earlier in the day. They were arrested after the victim recorded her statement before a magistrate at a hospital. During the day, a police team visited the house of the accused.

While Seema Rani was produced in court after her arrest, Khakha will be produced on Tuesday, the police said.

WCD Minister Atishi told PTI that the charges against the officer were “worrisome and shocking” because he had the responsibility to ensure the safety and security of women and children.

“I want to request the Delhi police and the judiciary to take the strictest action against the accused as soon as possible,” she said.

The police said the case was registered under provisions of the POCSO Act and Indian Penal Code sections 376(2)(f) (being a relative, guardian or teacher of, or a person in a position of trust or authority towards the woman, commits rape on such woman) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to outrage the modesty of a woman).

IPC sections 506 (criminal intimidation), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 313 (causing miscarriage without woman’s consent) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) have also been invoked.

When the minor allegedly became pregnant, she informed the wife of the accused who later asked her son to get medicines for pregnancy termination and gave them to the girl.

The girl returned home with her mother in January 2021 when she came to meet her.

The matter involving the official and his wife came to light when the girl, who is now in Class 12, recently narrated the incident to a counsellor at a hospital where she was admitted following an anxiety attack, the police officer said.

The accused allegedly sexually assault her several times, the officer said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi BJP leaders attacked the AAP government over the incident and demanded the resignation of minister Kailash Gahlot, claiming the accused worked as his OSD when he was heading the department.

No immediate reaction was available from the ruling AAP or Gahlot over the issue.

“The officer charged with raping a minor was serving as the OSD to the Minister of Women and Child Development.

“He was one of the favourites of the Kejriwal administration and was handpicked. The Kejriwal government must answer!” Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva posted on microblogging platform X.

In a media interaction, Delhi BJP secretary Bansuri Swaraj claimed that the accused officer was a “handpicked” officer on special duty (OSD) to the then Women and Child Development (WCD) minister Kailash Gahlot.

“The accused officer exploited the girl while being OSD, therefore Gahlot should take moral responsibility and resign,” Bansuri said showing a purported government order.

Swaraj also questioned the “silence” of the present WCD minister Atishi.

Atishi demanded that a probe from all angles should be held and added the accused officer was suspended soon after the Kejriwal government got information about the incident.

She also said that the case against the accused should be fast-tracked by the police and the courts.

Swaraj, however, hit out at the Kejriwal government saying the FIR against the accused officer was filed by the police on August 13, yet it took seven days to order his suspension.

A Delhi government order dated March 13, 2023 said that the accused officer Premoday Khakha, deputy director (WCD) who was deployed to then WCD minister Kailash Gahlot, on March 29, 2022, was relieved from his duties with effect from March 10, 2023.

Atishi was appointed as minister of the WCD department through a notification on March 9, 2023.

However, sources claimed that Khakha was not repatriated and he continued to be OSD. But after Atishi took charge, he stopped working on the post.

Khakha has also been associated with Juvenile Justice Board.

Earlier in the day, DCW chief Swati Maliwal sat on a dharna at a hospital on Monday, claiming that she was prevented from meeting the victim.

“The director of the hospital came to meet the DCW chief and informed her that the DCP (deputy commissioner of police) and ACP (assistant commissioner of police) of the Delhi Police are inside the hospital and had asked them to not allow her to meet the victim,” the women’s panel said in a statement.

The commission also sent a notice to the Delhi Police and the city government’s women and child development and services departments, seeking action in the matter.

Maliwal said it was “shocking” that the Delhi police did not arrest the accused even eight days after the registration of the FIR.

“Even I was not allowed to meet the survivor at the behest of the Delhi Police. I will meet the survivor and provide all possible support,” she said.

Responding to National Commission for Women (NCW) Chairperson Rekha Sharma’s statement on X alleging that the DCW’s “own officer has been raping a girl since the last two years”, Maliwal said legal action will be taken in the matter for “false accusations and defaming the commission”.

“Strongly object to the lies being spread by the NCW chairperson and some BJP politicians, stating that the accused is an employee of the DCW.

“The statement is fake propaganda. Legal action will be taken against spreading of such fake news and defaming the commission,” Maliwal said.