Mumbai: The kidnapping, molestation and extortion of a 29-year-old model by policemen was not extempore but a well planned conspiracy, preliminary investigations by Mumbai Crime Branch revealed.
Eight people, including two assistant police inspectors and a constable, have been arrested in the case that has shook down Mumbai police department.
Reports suggested that the victim approached the Saki Naka police with a written complaint on April 16 but the officers there failed to act. After waiting for four days, the desperate victim sent an SMS to Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria which reads: 'Injustice has been done to me, I need your intervention for justice.'
After receiving the message, Maria called her up and she gave him a rough idea of the ordeal she had undergone. Commissioner then asked her to meet him the next day. The victim, along with her boyfriend, met Maria and narrated the incident after which the police chief directed the crime branch to register an FIR.
The woman told the police chief that she had gone to a five-star hotel for an audition of a film on April 3. When she came out, a police vehicle allegedly pulled up and the men inside threatened to arrest her if she didn't get in.
The woman was allegedly taken to a police station in Sakinaka in Andheri in the western part of the city, and raped through the night. The next morning, the policemen allegedly demanded money, around Rs. 4.5 lakh, to let her go. The woman's friend reportedly came and paid the money. She told the police chief that her friend went to several ATMs in the middle of the night to get the cash. In total they extorted around Rs 10 lakh in cash and jewellery.
Taking the cognizance of the incident, the Supreme Court has directed police to take immediate action on any complaint of sexual assault.
According to the reports, the incident has upset the top brass including Commissioner Rakesh Maria. On Friday, he pulled up senior officers, including senior inspector of Saki Naka police station Prasanna More and deputy commissioner of police Prashant Holkar, for lack of supervision and negligence.
The accused policemen, APIs Sunil Khatpe, Suresh Suryavanshi and constable Yogesh Ponde, defended themselves, saying they had only gone to arrest the victim who was indulging in prostitution.
Maria rubbished their version and asked why their intention to conduct a raid did not make it to the station diary, why senior inspector of their police station was not aware of this and why did they take civilians along with them who impersonated cops?
Apart from the three policemen, the city crime branch has arrested five persons identified as Javed Shaikh, Ibrahim Khan, Tanvir Asmi, Sanju Range and Ayesha Malviya. Ayesha (24) posed as a policewoman and forcibly removed the victim's gold ornaments and cash.
All eight accused have been booked for wrongful confinement, molestation, rape, extortion and conspiracy and were produced before the 37th metropolitan magistrate, who remanded them in police custody till April 29.
In court, the defence lawyers argued that the victim was a commercial sex worker and also pointed to the delay in filing of her complaint. However, the court dismissed their arguments, observing that irrespective of a woman's profession, nobody can have sexual intercourse with her without her consent. Police are now looking for two more persons, including one Aman, who claims to be a photo-shoot coordinator.