An aspiring actress had a brush with real-life drama at Bandra Bandstand on Thursday, as she pursued two men who had passed lewd comments at her, even propositioned her, finally catching them after a high-octane auto rickshaw chase.
Purnima Behl was disappointed when no one came to her aid, despite the spot being packed with people. Pic/Onkar Devlekar
The men –boxers from Haryana – would both have been behind bars, but one of them managed to escape from the police station. On Thursday night, Purnima Behl (26) had gone to Bandstand for a jog. At 10.30 pm, she was resting on one of the benches, when the two boxers began to harass her. “I regularly jog at Bandstand.
The cops only managed to arrest Dinesh Yadav, as his accomplice escaped from the police station. Dinesh had asked Purnima to spend the night with them
On Thursday night, after I had finished jogging, I was sitting on a bench, talking to my family on the phone. One guy approached me asking if I needed any help. He continued to ask me my name and why I was so busy on the phone,” she recalled.
“A few minutes later another person came and sat beside me. I was still busy on the phone with my family, as I live alone in Mumbai. At first I did not notice the second person, but then got shocked when I saw how close he was sitting to me. I started to feel scared,” she added.
The 26-year-old got even more scared when the second man started talking to her. “He kept staring at me and saying he wanted to talk to me. Then he asked me how much I would charge to join them for the night. I just got up and began yelling at them.
I told them they were shameless, harassing a woman sitting alone. But when I threatened to complain to the police, they said, ‘do whatever you want; we are not afraid’. This is when I got terrified.”
Purnima said she went on shouting at the accused but was amazed that none of the passers-by came to her aid. “I was shouting loudly for around 10 minutes; the place was crowded with families and other joggers and walkers, but no one came forward to help. I don’t understand the mentality of people here,” she told mid-day.
After a while, the two men decided to run for it and boarded an auto rickshaw. Determined to make them pay for their misbehaviour, Purnima got into another auto and followed them till St Andrew’s Church on Hill Road, where a police nakabandi was on.
“Their auto was just going to pass the nakabandi when I got down from my auto, ran towards them and informed the cops. The accused told me that it was a small incident and that I should give them another chance and let them go free. But I was adamant on filing an FIR,” said Purnima, who managed to have both of them taken to Bandra police station, only to see one of the accused escape from there.
Senior Police Inspector Ramchandra Dhawle of Bandra police station confirmed the incident. A police officer said, “The accused is identified as Dinesh Yadav (27) who is boxer from Haryana. He was charged under Sections 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 34 (common intention) of the IPC.
On Friday afternoon, the accused was presented in Bandra court where he was granted bail. We are locating the other accused, Amit Kumar. He will be arrested soon.” While Amit was the one who had first approached her, Dinesh was the man who had propositioned her, the cops said.
They also added that the two were in Mumbai for a visit. While disappointed with the apathy she met from bystanders at Bandstand, Purnima hopes other women will step forward and take action against those who harass them.
“I want all women to fight against such people. Such incidents are on the rise in Mumbai. I appeal to people to come forward and help women in need. In my case, I was shocked when no one helped. I was afraid, but if I had left them, they would have been encouraged to do it again,” she said.
The 26-year-old is a model from Jammu who moved to Mumbai two years ago to achieve her dream of becoming an actress. She began modelling at the age of 20, and has worked in Kuwait and Dubai, UAE in the past. She won the title of North India Teen Queen, and has worked in music videos and an ad film made for the Uttar Pradesh government.