No lawyers for man accused of molestation

There was high drama at the Morwadi court yesterday after 150 Pimpri residents rallied outside the premises to protest against a 62-year-old man accused of molesting a 15-year-old girl. Residents and an all-party delegation of women corporators from the PCMC, requested the local Bar Council to reject the ‘vakalatnama’ (a person’s authority letter to an advocate to represent him in court) of the accused.

Following the demand, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Bar Association decided that no lawyer would accept the case, and the accused was unable to secure bail. He was remanded in magisterial custody, and sent to Yerawada Jail. On Sunday, Pimpri residents handed over accused Harbhajansingh Bhamra following a complaint by a teenager that he had allegedly outraged her modesty. 

The victim’s mother said that Bhamra, who resides in the neighbouring apartments and used to earlier stay in the victim’s building, had entered their house on Sunday when her daughter was alone in the living room and while her father was taking a bath. On the pretext of checking for leakages in the flat, Bhamra is alleged to have behaved indecently with the victim and left, said the mother. When the father came out the bathroom, he saw his daughter crying. After the girl narrated the incident, the parents approached Bhamra and confronted him. Soon neighbours gathered and after hearing about the incident, they got hold of Bhamra and handed him over to the police. 

Mob justice: Several Pimpri residents and woman corporators gathered at the court yesterday. Pics/Navnath Kaple

When Pimpri police produced him in court the next day, Bhamra’s neighbours, women activists and women corporators gathered at the court premise waiting for the accused to appear. Seeing the crowds, police tried to delay the proceedings. But, since the crowd was unwilling to disperse, the Pimpri police produced the accused at 5.45 pm, but they could not him save from the public’s wrath.

Shiv Sena corporator Seema Salave, who was leading the mob, said, “All women corporators and several residents from Bhamra’s apartment were waiting for him to be produced in the court.”

Confirming that the accused was slapped and mobbed by the crowd in the court premises’ Salve said, “The public outrage was evident after people got to know that he [Bhamra] had also behaved indecently with several other girls from his building. The other girls’ parents, who did not muster the courage earlier to lodge a complaint against him fearing that their daughter’s identity would be revealed, came out to vent their anger while he was being produced in the court.”

President of Pimpri-Chinchwad Bar Association, Advocate Mahesh Nagargoje, said that association members decided against accepting the vakalatnama of the accused, and since there was no lawyer representing the accused, he was sent to magisterial custody.

Advocate Nagargoje said that if there were fresh demands, either from the women activists or from the victim’s parents’, a decision on not representing the accused would be taken.

Police Inspector Mohan Vidhate from Pimpri police station informed that to prevent any untoward incidents, the accused in the molestation case was taken on a two-wheeler from the rear gate of the court after the proceedings. PI Vidhate, however, denied that the accused was mobbed. 

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