Mumbai Crime: Drug addicts set 13-year-old boy on fire for refusing sex

Jan 12, 2018, 08:15 IST | Samiullah Khan

Film editor sees boy running in the middle of the road with his back on fire and rushes him to hospital

The minor was taken to this jeep, where the accused allegedly tried to assault him
The minor was taken to this jeep, where the accused allegedly tried to assault him

Justice continues to evade survivors of abuse. Over 15 days after a group of drug addicts near Goregaon's Film City forced a 13-year-old to have sex with them and lit his pants on fire when he refused, the police are yet to take any stringent action against the accused. Not only did they allegedly register the FIR nine days after the incident, but they also forced the minor's family to accept a 'compromise' with the accused's family. However, the cops claim the minor and his family didn't tell them about the abuse when their statement was first recorded.

The boy is admitted at Kasturba hospital
The boy is admitted at Kasturba hospital

According to eyewitnesses, the incident occurred late on December 28, when the minor was on his way home with his 15-year-old deaf and mute friend. The minor's family members said the two were stopped by a group of druggies in Goregaon's Film City area. When the boys got scared and started to run away, the druggies caught the minor and took him to a jeep parked near the spot.

Also read - Mumbai Crime: Man sexually abuses two minor boys in Kurla, held

The minor and his 15-year-old friend are on their way home from Film City when a group of druggies stops them
The minor and his 15-year-old friend are on their way home from Film City when a group of druggies stops them

The ordeal
The minor's mother said, "First, they tried to open his pants. When my son refused and began screaming for help, the group got agitated and poured thinner into his pants. Somehow, my son managed to free himself and began running away. But one of the threw a lit matchstick on the thinner, setting his pants on fire." The minor said he then ran on the road to seek help, while his friend tried to douse the fire, which was out of control. At a distance, the minor saw a tub filled with water near a garage and jumped into it.

The boys begin to run, but the group catches hold of the 13-year-old and tries to force him into having sex with them
The boys begin to run, but the group catches hold of the 13-year-old and tries to force him into having sex with them

Critical condition
Just then, film editor Yogiraj Shetty, 33, who was heading home to Chembur, saw the two boys. With the help of locals, he wrapped the boy in a blanket and took him to a nearby hospital. Doctors there informed the boy's family about his critical condition and asked them to move him to another hospital.

Agitated with the boy’s protests, the group pours thinner down his pants and then throws a matchstick on him
Agitated with the boy’s protests, the group pours thinner down his pants and then throws a matchstick on him

"By the time the parents arrived, we called for an ambulance, and he was rushed to a trauma hospital in Jogeshwari," said Shetty. With no major change in his condition following 50 per cent burns, the boy has been shifted to Kasturba Hospital for further treatment.

The minor, who is on fire, runs for help and douses the flames with water near a garage, when Shetty sees him
The minor, who is on fire, runs for help and douses the flames with water near a garage, when Shetty sees him

Police inaction
The family is also deeply upset with the behaviour of police officers, who took their statement and registered an FIR nine days after the incident. The boy's 65-year-old grandmother said, "It is clear that the Dindoshi police have played down the case to save somebody and are also pressuring us to compromise with the accused. When we refused to do so, they registered the FIR and included normal sections that are no match to the statements given by us and our boy."

Taking the help of locals, Shetty wraps the minor in a blanket and takes him to a local hospital
Taking the help of locals, Shetty wraps the minor in a blanket and takes him to a local hospital

The family claims to have wasted no time in going to the police. "Immediately after the incident, we were making rounds of the Dindoshi police station. Investigating officer PSI Sambandh Pawar was neither giving us the opportunity to talk, nor allowing us to meet senior officers. He would call women personnel, who would push us out of the police station," the grandmother added.

The minor, who has suffered 50 per cent burns, is later shifted to Kasturba hospital. Illustration/Uday Mohite
The minor, who has suffered 50 per cent burns, is later shifted to Kasturba hospital. Illustration/Uday Mohite

"Once, Pawar called us to the police station and took us to the senior's cabin, where the accused and his relatives were also present. He took our phones and began recording the conversation from his phone. The accused forced us to withdraw the case, lured us in front of the senior inspector by offering to pay the damages and promising to provide for the child his whole life. But we refused. Even today, all the accused are walking free, some of them have come to the hospital and are offering money and pressuring us to withdraw the case. All this is being done because of the police. I want justice; the people who have done this should get strict punishment," the grandmother said.

"I had spoken to my son and I told the cops whatever he told me, but they did not mention it in the FIR. They had recorded my statement in Marathi, which I do not understand. I don't know based on what he has taken [our] signatures without making me understand what is written against my name. Every time we ask the officer about the development in our case, we are just turned away from the police station," said the mother, who alleged Pawar did not take her statement in front of her.

What the police say
Meanwhile, the police said that on the day of the incident, when the official took the statement of the victim and his father in the hospital, they revealed no information about the sexual abuse. "Now that the family has given us this information, making allegations they'd not mentioned before, we have today [Thursday] included section 307 of the IPC and various sections of the POCSO Act in the case," said another officer. Cops also said the accused and victim know each other as they reside in the same locality and told them they would resolve the matter. At that time, an FIR was registered only under sections 285 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code.

Minor also a drug addict?
Officers said that during investigation it was revealed that the accused and victim were drug addicts who kept a handkerchief doused with petrol and thinner tied to their waists. A police officer said, "On the day of the incident, they were all smelling the rolled cloths; in the meantime, someone lit a matchstick and the minor's kerchief came in contact with it and caught fire."

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