Delhi Police on Tuesday virtually hit back at Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for accusing the force of "interference" while recording the statement of the 23-year-old rape victim on a day a constable succumbed to his injuries sustained during Sunday's violent protests.
Police's strong response came a day after Dikshit shot off a letter to Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde citing a communication to her by Deputy Commissioner (East) B M Mishra that Sub Divisional Magistrate Usha Chaturvedi had complained about senior police officials' interference while she was recording the statement of the victim.
Denying the allegations, City Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said police never forced any questionnaire on the SDM. The SDM had complained that police had told her to ask the victim only from the questionnaire the investigators had prepared.
"It was the police which had insisted that the statement of the girl be recorded as her condition was getting worse with every passing day...Chaturvedi was assigned the job by the Divisional Commissioner," he said.
The SDM could have refused to record the statement if at any point she had felt pressure from the police, he said.
As soon as Dikshit complained to Home Minister yesterday, police immediately sought recording of victim's statement before a Metropolitan Magistrate, which have more legal value.
"The victim recorded the statement before a judicial magistrate today. This has more evidentiary value," he said.
Constable Subhash Tomar (47), who was wounded during Sunday's protests, succumbed to his injuries at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital where he was in ventillator for the past three days. He was cremated in the presence of the Chief Minister, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh and others.
Doctors at Safdarjung Hosptial said the victim's condition was a "shade better than yesterday" as her vital parameters have shown a marginal improvement, but she is still critical and continues to be on ventilator support.
Delhi Police this evening eased restrictions near India Gate and Raisina Hill leading to Rashtrapati Bhavan even as small protests were held at Jantar Mantar demanding stringent punishment for those involved in the gangrape and brutal assault of the girl in a moving bus in south Delhi on December 16.