Picked up in the dead of the night and raped by policemen, who assaulted both her and her male friend and extorted Rs 9.33 lakh from them, the 29-year-old model says the “shameless” Mumbai Police has completely destroyed her life.
The accused, including the police officials, were produced in Killa court yesterday and remanded in police custody till April 29. Pic/Bipin kokate
Disowned by her family because of the incident, the survivor says she may never come to terms with the events of April 3 and is certain that she will never forget the “black day”, not until she dies.
The preliminary investigation into the case has revealed that the three cops from Sakinaka police station, who raped the survivor Assistant Police Inspectors Sunil Katape (34) and Suresh Suryavanshi (36) and Head Constable Yogesh Ponde (36) were aided in the extortion bid by at least one local journalist and five others.
While eight of the accused are in the police net, one is absconding. Police say a major fact that will help them in getting the accused convicted is that the model, reportedly acting on the advice of a lawyer, got a medical test done at a government hospital after she was allowed to go by the cops, on April 4, and she has a copy of the report.
Speaking to mid-day, the survivor said that on the day of the incident, she received a message on her cellphone around midnight from an unknown number. The sender asked her to reach a hotel in Sakinaka because a Gujarati businessman was staying there and was looking for models to cast in a movie he was planning to make.
When she told him that it was too late and she could come early the next morning, the sender said that the businessman would leave the city by then and she would have to go immediately. “I am desperate for work. I need to start my career so I have to go when people call me,” said the model.
She reached the hotel lobby around 12.30 am and the model co-ordinator asked her to go on the third floor of the hotel where the businessman was waiting for her. When she was asked to go alone, she suspected something amiss and asked one of her male friends to come to the hotel.
By the time her friend reached, the cops also landed there with some of the other accused, including a woman. From the hotel, they took both of them to the second floor of the Sakinaka police station and began threatening them, saying the model was a prostitute and her friend was a pimp and they would be booked under various sections.
“I was shocked and traumatised at being termed a prostitute by the cops.” Little did she know, however, that their ordeal had just begun. “In the police station, I was crying and begging the cops to release me, they separated my friend and me and took us to another police chowkie (Sangharsh Nagar), where cops in plain clothes began sexually assaulting me.” She was sexually assaulted by the cops more than five times in the whole night.
In her statement, the woman said, “One cop came to me and said, “tum mujhe khush karo to mein tumhe jaane doonga (make me happy, then I will let you go). I was sexually assaulted several times.” “The policemen have destroyed my life. I am a struggling actor and go where coordinators call me. The police forcefully took me, a woman, to a police station in the dead of night and did this to me.
Before coming to Mumbai, I had heard a lot about the Mumbai Police. But, the Mumbai Police has destroyed my life completely. I am shocked and traumatised by the acts of the shameless Mumbai police,” the model told mid-day. “My family came to know about the incident and they have disowned me.
Where am I supposed to go now? When the cops took me to the police station, they told me I would be framed as a prostitute and kept inside a remand home. They said I would be known as a prostitute even after I got out. Cops are meant to save citizens, but what they did to me is something I can never forget till I die. This black day will be a burden that I will have to carry around my whole life,” she added.
The male friend was, meanwhile, being beaten up in Sakinaka police station. The cops were demanding Rs 10 lakh to release them initially, but settled for a lower figure. He told mid-day that the cops beat him badly throughout the night and stopped only when he paid them an initial bribe of Rs 35,000.
He asked his mother to deposit Rs 4 lakh in his account, which was brought to the police station by a friend of his. “I begged the cops to let us go, to at least let my friend go, but the cops separated us and physically assaulted both of us,” he said. The gold ornaments which the woman was wearing were also taken from her. In all the cops took valuables worth Rs 9.33 lakh.
The Mumbai Police Crime Branch have arrested eight people, six of whom were nabbed on Thursday and two yesterday. The arrested accused have been identified as APIs Sunil Katape and Suresh Suryavanshi, Head Constable Yogesh Ponde, Javed Sheikh(35), Sanjay Range (46), Tanvir Hashmi (34), Ayesha Malviya (24) and Ibrahim Khan (42). All of them have been booked under IPC sections related to rape, criminal conspiracy and extortion and were produced before the Killa Court. They were remanded in police custody till April 29. Another accused, Sikandar Mirza is wanted in the case.
The cops picked up the woman and her friend in private cars and were in plain clothes. In a breach of norms, they did not mention anything in the police diary about detaining the woman and her friend. Taking a woman to the police station after sunset without a female constable present is also a violation. When the cops finally let the woman and her friend go in the morning, they changed into their uniform and, to cover their tracks, officially charged them under Section 110 (Indecent behaviour) of the Bombay Police Act and fined them R1,200.
A very senior IPS officer questioned the working of the cops, “If the cops had gone to the hotel to act or to make a case, their action should have been mentioned in the station diary. However, their intentions were not clear. The woman who has been arrested posed as a female constable from Sakinaka police station in the whole operation.
The cops were without uniform and in private vehicles. This is part of a huge extortion racket and I am shocked that such a racket is taking place in a city like Mumbai and the Mumbai Police is involved.” Speaking to mid-day, Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Atulchandra Kulkarni said, “The commissioner took very prompt action in the case. Immediately after the woman’s statement, an FIR was registered.
The accused were nabbed promptly. One of the accused cops was freely roaming about in his jurisdiction when he was arrested. We will come down heavily on any such acts and take very tough action in the case. Now that we have got custody of the accused, proper investigation will be done.”
“One of the cops who sexually assaulted me told me that he had my address and would keep coming to my house. I was so scared that I could not complain,” the survivor said. She had finally sent Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria a message on Tuesday and met him on Wednesday. Maria had ordered immediate action, leading to the arrests.