Are ordinary women in the city safe when the ones in the police department are not? A female constable was held by force and molested by a male colleague inside Nagpada police hospital a few days ago. Local cops have arrested three people the accused constable, and two hospital staffers for confinement of the woman.
Navnath Prafful Khedke (30), who is employed with the Mumbai Police’s motor vehicles department and is now posted with Dr Patil of Nagpada police hospital as a driver, is the key accused. Apart from him, Mahesh Laxman Bariya (31), a cleaner at the medical institute, and Shankar Pandurang Ambavale (42), a ward boy, have also been taken into custody.
The victim was recuperating at Nagpada police hospital. Pic/Atul Kamble
According to Nagpada police, the newly recruited female constable, who hails from Satara, joined the force on November 25 last year. She was asked to receive training at the Marol police camp in Andheri, during the course of which she fractured her left leg and was taken to Cooper Hospital. Here, her leg was taped up and she was then admitted to Nagpada police hospital for convalescing.
“On January 27, when the woman went to meet a Dr Shinde in his cabin to inquire about discharge, she came across Mahesh, who asked her where she hailed from, and where she was having her meals. He told her that he could send her food from a cook nearby, and took her mobile number,” said an officer from Nagpada police station.
Mahesh later started calling the woman regularly, asking her to come down to meet him, and said that friendship between men and women was commonplace in Mumbai.
A few days later, when the woman went to the cabin of a Dr Chavan, she ran into constable Navnath, who told her that he, too, hailed from Satara, and forcibly gave her his ATM card, and asked her to withdraw money as and when required.
“The female constable got scared. She called up Navnath on February 6 and requested him to collect his ATM card. He called her back, and asked her to come down and meet him near the OPD. Here, he and Shankar inquired about her health.
Later, Shankar left, but locked the door behind him. That’s when Navnath clutched the woman in his arms and told her that he liked her and asked if she liked him as well,” said Nandkumar Mehtar, senior inspector of Nagpada police station.
The woman started screaming, and Navnath called Shankar and asked him to open the door. But, they also threatened the female constable not to tell anyone about the episode. The woman was traumatised, and later talked to Dr Fad and Dr Patil from the institute, who then approached female inspector Phadke, and registered a case against the accused trio.
“The three men were trying to ambush the woman, seeing that she hailed from Satara and was new to the city. We have arrested all the accused, who have been granted bail, but we will be approaching the sessions court to again to get their custody,” added Mehtar.
Letters of the law
The accused have been charged under sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC.