Pune school girl rape: Accused van driver tries to kill himself in police lockup

On Saturday, a day after his arrest, Sandeep Kumbhar started sobbing and screaming for forgiveness, then banged his head against glass windows, supposedly to kill himself

After the police arrested a 30-year-old school van driver for raping a six-year-old student inside his van, the suspect apparently tried to end his life on Saturday by banging his head on a glass window inside the police station’s interrogation room.

Suspect Sandeep Kumbhar (30), a resident of Shivne, was arrested late on Friday night after the assaulted child’s mother (25) lodged a complaint at Warje Malwadi police station. A case was lodged against him under sections 376 (2) (rape) and 354 (molestation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and also under sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

On Saturday, he was produced before a special judge and remanded in police custody. Later the same day, following his self-destructive actions inside the police station, assistant inspector Jagannath More lodged a separate case against him under IPC section 309 for trying to commit suicide.

Inspector (Crime) K S Pujari said, “After Kumbhar was produced in court on Saturday, we got his police custody for two days. But the same day, around 9.20 pm, while he was inside the lockup, he suddenly started shouting and crying. We brought him near the interrogation room, only to hear him scream out that he regretted his deeds, that everyone should please forgive him and that he didn’t want to live anymore. Then he banged his head on the windowpanes in the interrogation room in a bid to kill himself.”

“Kumbhar has a permit and has been rendering his driving services to the school on a private basis for four years,” he said, adding, “The girl is out of danger and we have recorded her statement.”

‘He raped her’
Meanwhile, investigations revealed that the girl arrived late at school for the three days that she was brutalised. Inspector Ganpat Pingle of Warje Malwadi police station said, “The victim was sexually abused from November 11 till November 13 near the school gate inside Kumbhar’s van. While questioning school staffers, we came to know that on these three days she was marked late: she had not been reaching her class on time.”

The cops later learnt why. “Kumbhar would make her stand last in the queue filing out of the van, then grab her and take her on his lap to finger and rape her. Back at home, the child’s mother observed that she was unusually quiet, could not walk properly, and kept going to the bathroom. When she noticed that her daughter’s private parts were swollen, she rushed her to a private hospital in Karvenagar and then to Sassoon general hospital.

We came to know about the incident from Sassoon, following which we zeroed down on Kumbhar, who is married and has two daughters as old as the victim.”

Pingle continued, “The girl has identified the suspect. We have interrogated other children who commuted with the victim, and they confirmed seeing Kumbhar make the child wait at the end of the queue while the rest of them were asked to go. We are checking CCTV footage to gain more information.”

Pune regional transport officer Jitendra Patil said, “On Monday, a prosecution team of my officers will visit the school and hold an inquiry. The school cannot claim that the victim was plying in a private van, so they have no role to play. The conclusion will be drawn after our team has spoken with the school committee on transport.”

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