Less than a week after MiD DAY published a report on how a woman was physically and sexually assaulted by the ex-society secretary of her building whom she had earlier lodged a complaint against, other residents of the same building Dosti Carnation at Antop Hill are now up in arms against the complainant, and claim that her allegations are false.
In a story carried in its September 6 edition, MiD DAY had reported on 57-year-old Gita Kasturi’s allegations that the ex-secretary of the building Adil Patrawala had knocked on her door, fought with her, assaulted her physically and sexually before fleeing (‘Ex-society secretary assaults woman who accused him of stealing funds’). Kasturi had earlier accused Patrawala of embezzling society funds, after which he had to step down from his post.
In an interesting development, 50 women of the same society have shot off a signed petition to the police, alleging that the men in their building are not safe, as they could be wrongfully accused of sexual harassment at any given point of time, and thereafter be forced to deal with the trauma. MiD DAY has acquired a copy of the petition.
The FIR lodged by Kasturi, on which the MiD DAY report was based, alleged that Patrawala, on the pretext of returning some official documents to Kasturi, knocked on her door at around 8.15 am on September 5, but eventually assaulted her physically and sexually. But Pervin Vankuiwalla and Charu Gupta, two building residents who claim to have reached the spot minutes after the alleged physical and sexual molestation took place, say that the allegations are baseless.
“Patrawala was frantic, as he was being accused of sexual harassment, that too in the presence of a security guard, who was specifically called by him, as he had anticipated trouble. We have CCTV footage to prove his innocence and the same will be handed over to the police, to help them with the investigations and unearth the truth,” said Pervin.
Pervin said she found it hard to believe that Kasturi’s husband, who was sleeping in the very next room, did not react to the situation, whereas she and her family, which resides on the fourteenth floor, could hear the commotion on the first floor.
Charu Gupta, a school teacher, said that she too reached the spot minutes after hearing the commotion and could vouch for the fact that Patrawala did not subject the woman to sexual or physical harassment. “Both Pervin and I have gone personally to the police station and recorded our official statements in front of the investigating officer and will stand by it in any court of law to prove Patrawala’s innocence,” she said.
Speaking to MiD DAY, the security guard Vattipeli Yaadgiri, who had accompanied Patrawala on the day of the incident, added that what happened on the fateful morning was anything but sexual harassment.
“The lady wanted to grab some papers from Patrawala’s hand, which he resisted by holding them up. What followed was a bit of a physical scuffle between the two, and that’s it. I have given my statement to the police and have nothing to hide,” said Yaadgiri, who has been working in the society for over eight years now.
Another resident, former chairman, Vasant Deshmukh, (Rtd) Director General of Maharashtra Police, stated that he had advised Patrawala to approach the Antop Hill Police soon after the scuffle and file his version of the story, so it would be incorrect to say that he fled after the alleged incident. MiD DAY has a stamped copy from the police as well.
Senior PI Narendra Vichare of Antop Hill Police station stated that all the evidence including the CCTV footage and the testimonials given by other residents would be presented in court. “Our investigations are on to figure out if the scratches on the arms of the accused by the complainant are a result of the scuffle or are self-inflicted,” he said.
The Other Side
Sticking to her version of events, Dr Gita Kasturi, who is a lawyer by profession, categorically stated that she had ample proof to back her allegations. “I have been constantly raising the point of funds being misused by the committee members, headed by Patrawala, which finally led him to physically twist my arm and punch me in the chest. I am still recovering from a sprained back and would not like any other women to be subjected to such an ordeal,” she said. She further alleged that a majority of the signatures in the letter submitted to the police had been forcefully extracted from the members.