Mumbai: Manipuri woman spat on, kicked, dragged by hair and molested
A 26-year-old girl from Manipur who was assaulted, molested, kicked and dragged by her hair in Santacruz in public, found no sympathy or assistance from onlookers or even the local police, who ignored her request for an FIR and merely registered a non-cognisable offence (NC). Even in that complaint, the officer on duty made no mention of molestation, even though she showed him her torn clothes.
Anjali Toijam (name changed) hails from Manipur, but has been living in Mumbai for over five years, working as a make up artist. Anjali and her sister live in Kalina’s Kolivery village. On Saturday, Anjali stepped out with her friend around 6.30 pm, when she was accosted by an unknown man near the Palm Villa society. He first spat at her, and when she objected, he began to beat her.
The woman (left) and her friend at the area where the incident happened in Kalina’s Kolivery village. Pics/Satej Shinde
“He hit me, then kicked me in the abdomen. When I tried to resist, he molested me and tore my clothes. He began to hit me again, and I fell down. Then he grabbed my hair and dragged me by it on the street for a few metres,” Anjali told mid-day as she pointed to the spot where it all happened.
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Her friend tried to save her but the assailant pushed her aside. No one else came to Anjali’s aid, even though she cried for help. “I was shouting for help, so that someone would come forward and stop the man who was beating me mercilessly, but no one came forward,” she added.
Anjali’s sister said this is not the first time they have faced a lack of compassion, as they are often discriminated against for their mongoloid features. “Because of our North-East facial features, people believe that we are from China or Nepal. Because of this discrimination, no one came to my sister’s rescue,” she said.
Anjali said that if a girl from any other community or state had been harassed, people would have rushed to help, but even the shopkeepers she would buy her daily necessities from did not help her.
“This is inhumane and very painful. After this incident, my sister and I feel unsafe outside our home. I no longer believe Mumbai is safe for woman. It has become like Delhi,” said Anjali.
They alleged that their community faces several attacks that go unreported because the victims want to avoid further trouble. “Most of the people from our community are ill-educated and have come to city to work. So they don’t report crimes to police to avoid further trouble, but I believe not protesting such acts is also a crime. We don’t care if that goon attacks us, but we won’t sit silently until he is caught and punished,” said Anjali’s sister.
Insult to injury
After the incident, Anjali called the police control room, but by the time the police arrived, the man had fled. She went to Vakola police station to lodge a complaint, but experienced a second round of frustration.
“I was in a traumatic state but narrated all the details to Sub-Inspector Sanjay Pawar, who was on duty, requesting him to file an FIR. I even showed him my torn clothes. He gave me copy of the complaint and asked me to go home. He told me that police would catch the culprit soon and added that if anything happened again, I should go to the police station with the complaint copy,” said Anjali.
“I don’t understand Marathi, so I did not know what was written in the complaint copy, but assumed he had filed an FIR. I was shocked when my sister’s friend told me it was only an NC. Later, I figured out that he hadn’t even mentioned the entire crime in detail in the complaint,” she added.
mid-day confirmed that the complaint had only been registered under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (intentional insult) of the IPC, and not a single mention was made of molestation. The short complaint said only that an unidentified man hit the woman and abused her verbally. No mention was made of him spitting on her, or dragging her by the hair or even tearing her clothes.
Anjali spent two days at home to recover from the mental and physical trauma she had sustained on her neck and arms. In the meanwhile, her molester continues to roam free.
The two sisters took help from the North-East community and the NGO, My Home India, to follow up with the police. When the NGO representatives went to the police station, they were informed that the accused had fled to Bangalore. “The police are now trying to give us excuses and are not investigating the case the way they should,” alleged Anjali.
Bramhdev Atkari, Maharashtra co-ordinator for My Home India, which fights for the North-East community’s rights, said, “We met the senior inspector at the police station and were informed that the accused had fled to Bangalore with the help of his family, who claim he is mentally disturbed. We told the police they should arrest him and have him medically examined, instead of going by anyone’s claims.”
The Other Side
PSI Sanjay Pawar, from the Vakola police station, said, “I treated the complainant fairly and lodged an NC on the basis of the facts she narrated to me. Her clothes were not torn completely. The facts in her complaint would not have been fit for an FIR, hence, an NC was lodged. I didn’t stop there; I launched a manhunt for the suspect, who is believed to have fled from his home the same day.”
Pawar said he had also shared his personal phone number with the woman so she could contact him for help, and alleged that she was now blowing the incident out of proportion. “Police are not taking it casually. I am making all possible efforts to trace the suspect. The victim has gone overboard while narrating the incident to others,” he claimed.