All the uproar over giving more teeth to police action against sexual crimes has come back to bite innocents. A 26-year-old resident of south Mumbai, Irfan Ahmed Shaikh, has been made a victim of the police’s blinkered insistence on following the bosses’ diktat. Sheikh, who has had a clean record his entire life, has been dubbed a ‘molester’ by the JJ Marg police station.
According to the police, one of Shaikh’s female friends accused him of harassing her in the middle of a busy road in Wadibunder. Had Shaikh not had a concrete alibi in St George Hospital’s records, he would have been in hot water. As per the hospital’s injury report, Shaikh was admitted to the casualty ward of the hospital minutes before the woman alleged the crime was committed. He has a copy of the report corroborating the same.
All about the money
“The woman was my friend for the past few months. But I distanced myself from her since she kept demanding money. When I asked her to return the money she owed me, it led to a dispute. On April 10, she called me at CST station on the pretext of returning the money. When I reached there, a group of five to six people attacked me with hockey sticks,” said Shaikh.
He was rushed to St George Hospital where he was treated for injuries, while his kin registered an FIR against the attackers at the MRA Marg police station. But bigger trouble was awaiting Shaikh. His ‘friend’ approached the JJ Marg police and registered a bogus FIR, alleging that he had molested her under the Wadibunder bridge.
“Even a layman can catch her (complainant’s) lie. The FIR states that the crime took place around 9.15 pm on April 10. But the hospital records clearly indicate that I was admitted to the facility around 9.05 pm. How can I be present at two different places at the same time?” said a fuming Shaikh. “I have records to prove that the complainant has taken initiative on several occasions to call me in the middle of the night. She borrowed money from me many times,” Shaikh added.
Thankfully, the JJ Marg police did not rush Shaikh’s arrest. When the inconsistency was brought to the notice of senior police officials, they assured Shaikh that they would not take further steps without a detailed inquiry. But Shaikh said, “Under pressure, cops forget that even if an FIR is quashed at a later stage, the social stigma on innocent people is lasting. My family is keen on getting me married and they are looking for prospects for me. This incident has spoilt by reputation.”
Expressing the dilemma of handling cases pertaining to women, sub-inspector VP Sarnaik of JJ Marg police station said, “We are bound to lodge FIRs in cases pertaining to women. In this case, the complainant has witnesses to support her claim. During investigations, if we find that the allegations are false, we will follow the procedure to quash the FIR.”
This is not the first case where police were quick in registering the FIRs on the basis of allegations. Recently, an informer was booked by the Dongri police after a woman’s false complaint that he ‘outraged her modesty’. To take revenge, the informant’s wife charged her rivals with similar offences. Cops, who found themselves helpless, have ended up registering FIRs of both the parties despite knowing the facts.
April 10, 9.05 pm
Time when Shaikh was admitted to St George Hospital
April 10, 9.10 pm
Time the alleged molestation incident took place at Wadi Bunder, according to the FIR