The Bandra police on Sunday arrested Altaf Merchant, who allegedly posed as a producer and sexually abused a 32-year-old starlet for months under the pretext of getting her opportunities in Bollywood and also turned her towards drug addiction. Merchant was apprehended at the airport after the police received a tip-off that he was planning to flee abroad.
Altaf Merchant allegedly raped and turned the woman into a drug addict
“We have arrested Merchant on charges of rape. We will now question him on whether he forced the woman into drug consumption,” said an officer from the Bandra police station.
The police said soon after the woman gave them a written complaint, they filed an FIR against Merchant on May 14. In her complaint, the woman had accused Merchant of rape, physical abuse and turning her into a drug addict. She had earlier alleged that the police had tried to dilute the charges in the FIR, written in Marathi, by stating that she had filed the complaint after Merchant reneged on his promise to marry her. The actress had said she was not familiar with Marathi and, therefore, hadn’t been able to take on the police then. Besides, she had claimed that she could not record her statement properly because there was no woman officer at the police station.
Falling for the trap
The actress, who has worked in a few Hindi and Kannada films, had alleged she had met Merchant in 2013 through a mutual friend, and he had bragged about ‘good contacts’ in the film industry. Falling for his promises of giving her a break as a lead actress in a movie, the woman visited him at his Bandra flat in 2014. There, she found many youngsters consuming drugs. Merchant asked her to give drugs a try as well and in her naiveté, she caved in. As she got addicted to drugs over time, the actress realised that Merchant had no interest in furthering her career. He also allegedly raped her on several occasions for over two years and physically abused her. The woman is currently undergoing de-addiction treatment.