Cops initially let off one of the accused they had nabbed, after a mere warning; When MiD DAY took up the issue, an FIR was registered by the Kondhwa police
In the days following the Delhi gang rape and murder in December 2012, a German woman came to Pune to work, defying the protestations of friends and family that she would not be safe in this country. Now, almost a year later, that their fears have been justified, the young woman is heading back.
The 25-year-old German woman with her colleague, who were both assaulted on the night of December 31. Pics/Krunal Gosavi
On New Year’s Eve, the 25-year-old foreign national decided to go to a posh club on NIBM Road, Mohamadwadi, Kondhwa, with her Indian friends — a colleague Vijay (name changed to protect identity) and his wife, and another woman colleague.
Around 10 pm, as they were walking from the car park to the venue, three hooligans who had been trailing and making lewd remarks at the women, groped them and tried to kiss each of them.
When Vijay tried to stop them, they hit him. The group of friends then hurried toward the club. But the accused trio followed them on the pretext of apologising. When Vijay’s wife confronted them, they charged at Vijay, beat him up, and threw him in front of an oncoming car. The car braked in time, but the driver ignored the commotion and drove on.
Her male friend was beaten up when he tried to save the women
All the while, the women were shouting for help, but none of the passers-by — few, since the road is usually deserted even in daytime —stopped to help them. No one even bothered to call up the police.
Vijay’s wife, then, gathered herself and called up the police control room, but the police arrived half an hour later, on a patrolling bike. By then, the ruffians had fled. Vijay, though injured, decided to accompany the cops to look for the accused. They managed to find and nab one, but the other two had escaped.
At the Kondhwa police station, the cops handed Vijay a law book and asked him which penal sections should be applied against the accused. “I was so puzzled, I simply told them to do whatever they thought was right,” said Vijay.
So the cops filed a non-cognisable complaint — reserved for lighter offences — and let off one accused after giving him a warning.
‘Sorry for her’
Vijay’s wife told MiD DAY, “The three were reeking of alcohol. They tried to kiss us, and when my husband intervened, they started pounding him with fisticuffs and punches. We were shouting for help but no one came to our rescue. So we three women got into the fray to save my husband from them, but they turned on us and we had no option but to leave my husband to his fate.”
She continued, “After I called up the police, I received four calls from the cops to see if I was the one who had called, to know our location and other such details. But cops came on a patrolling bike half an hour later, when it was too late. The goons had disappeared.”
She added, “I had never ventured out for a New Year celebration. My husband’s German colleague wanted to see New Year’s Eve in India, so we decided to take her to a plush club. I am so sorry, for myself and her, that we did.”
‘We failed her’
The third woman who was assaulted said, “After brutally beating up Vijay, the goons returned, shouting apologies. Their manner was threatening, and they again started thrashing Vijay. I feel extremely embarrassed after this incident, extremely disgusted, even more so when my German colleague told us that such incidents rarely happen in her home country. Can you imagine what images and memories she would be carrying back home?”
Speaking of his foreigner friend, Vijay said, “She had come here days after the Delhi gang rape, despite all the news and opinions regarding woman’s safety in India. Throughout her stay here, we had been trying to change her outlook, by showing her examples of independent and free women in our country. As an Indian, I feel remorse that we have miserably failed her.” She is leaving to go to Germany for good next week, he added.
When Vijay approached the cops the day after, on Wednesday afternoon, seeking a copy of the FIR, the official on duty told him to come later. He said the cops did not share details of the person who was had been caught the night before, and “simply refused to give us more information about whether the remaining culprits had been arrested or not”.
However, later in the evening yesterday, when MiD DAY contacted Senior Inspector (SI) Pandharinath Mandhare, he said that an FIR had been registered against the three accused under sections 323, 354, 504 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code.
“We had lodged an NC before only because the complainant (Vijay) did not mention that the women with him had been molested. But an FIR has been lodged now, under four sections including one for molestation,” SI Mandhare said.
Sub-inspector P N Holkar of Kondhwa police station said, “We arrested one of the accused, Tuljaram Vinayak Shinde (29), a resident of Kachakewasti in Wanowrie.”