Fed up of police harassment, woman withdraws sexual assault complaint
For the 22-year-old who was offered water by a woman, knocked unconscious and then molested by at least two men in Bandra last month, horror has piled on horror. Far from being sympathetic to her in the course of their investigation into her ordeal, the police have allegedly ensured that her life got more miserable in the weeks that followed.
Instead of trying to find out who had molested her, officials from the Nirmal Nagar police and the Crime Branch have repeatedly questioned her and even accused her of being a liar, of misleading them, cooking up the story to save herself from her parents and even taunted her for not having a boyfriend despite being 22 years old.
mid-day report on January 17
Fed up, and with all hopes of justice crushed, the survivor approached the Nirmal Nagar police last week to take her complaint back. “Registering the complaint was the biggest mistake of my life,” she told mid-day yesterday.
Around 8 pm on January 10, the survivor, a resident of Bandra (W), was on her way back home after collecting clothes from a tailor in Bandra (E). She suddenly sneezed while walking, and a woman, between 35 and 40 years old, approached her and offered her some water.
In her statement to the police, the survivor had said that after taking two sips of the water, she had started feeling light-headed and, just as she was about to fall on the ground, the woman had forced her to sit in a car which had two men in it.
Half-conscious, she had requested the trio to drop her to Bandra (west), but they slapped her and asked her to shut up. She had lost consciousness after that. The survivor said that that when she had come to her senses the next morning, she had found herself in a garbage bin in South Mumbai. Her clothes were torn and there were multiple nail and teeth marks on her body.
“I have faced several policemen since the time I registered the complaint (on January 11). Sometimes, I was called by the Nirmal Nagar police station and, at others, officials from the Crime Branch (Unit VIII) in Andheri questioned me. Interrogations went on from morning to evening.
They took me to the spot several times and different cops kept asking me the same questions again and again. At times, police teams in uniform paid visits to my residence without informing us. I was hardly counselled and made to interact mostly with male officers,” the survivor alleged.
“Registering the complaint was the biggest mistake of my life. It has disturbed my family and disrupted our lives. Just after the complaint was registered, I was questioned every day for 10 long days. My father, who is a labourer and gets paid only on the days he works, accompanied me to the police station whenever the cops called me.
The situation was so bad that, in those two weeks, we had to borrow money from our friends and relatives to run the house. I was also not able to focus on my mother’s health, who needs regular dialysis,” she added.
‘Made me cry’
The girl, an eighth standard dropout, appeared for her Std XII exams privately. Because of this, she says, she has never really socialised and her family is all she has and means eveything to her. “The police officials kept bombarding me with questions that were so insensitive that they use to make me cry at times.
I don’t have a single friend and consider members of my family to be my best friends. I know that they are investigating a case but that does not give them the right to ask such humiliating questions,” added the 22-year-old survivor.
“The policemen told me that I was lying and that I had either gone out with some boyfriend of mine that I wasn’t telling them about or was just roaming about on my own. They accused me of having cooked up the entire story to hide this and refused to believe me when I kept saying no.
When I said that I did not have a boyfriend, some of the cops even taunted me about that,” she said. “Things got so bad at one point that I got fed up of the continuous grilling and taunting and just said that I had a boyfriend to make them stop.
They then started asking me details of my made-up boyfriend and I eventually had to tell them that I had just made that up out of frustration,” the survivor added.
“Finally, I went to the police station a week ago and gave them in writing that I wanted to withdraw my case. My family was getting disturbed by their investigations and we had even taken heavy loans to feed ourselves because my father had not been able to work thanks to the constant questioning.
I asked the officials to carry on with the investigations and catch the accused if they wanted to, but told them clearly that my family shouldn’t be disturbed,” she told mid-day.
The other side
Senior Police Inspector Sudhir Jambhavdekar from Nirmal Nagar police station said, “We have not received any application yet and we are still trying to get some clues in the case as it is a very sensitive one.
Besides, her medical report stated that she wasn’t sexually abused by any of the accused and we are waiting for her blood reports as she had claimed that she had fallen unconscious after drinking water offered by the woman.
Those reports should clear these doubts.” Speaking to mid-day, Senior Police Inspector Deepak Phatangre from Crime Branch (Unit VIII) refuted the survivor’s allegations.