Crime branch says the woman has confessed to lying about drive and co-passengers molesting her and throwing her child off the moving cab
The woman said she was scared of her family's reaction to her daughter's death. Pics/Hanif Patel
The 10-month-old girl who died on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad highway in Palghar last December fell off the moving cab because the door was open, said MBVV police's crime branch. Cops told mid-day that the 19-year-old mother confessed to lying about the driver and her co-passengers throwing her child off the taxi and molesting her.
On December 10, the young mother boarded a cab at Pelhar along with her infant daughter. She was going to her home in a tribal hamlet in the Palghar district. On her way, she lost her child and later accused other occupants of the car of murder and sexual assault.
Cops at the crime spot
An FIR was filed at Mandvi police station and the police immediately arrested Vijay Kushwaha, the cab driver.
However, considering the sensitivity of the matter, the then Mira Bhayandar-Vasai Virar (MBVV) police chief Sadanand Date handed over the case to the crime branch.
The child was 10 months old when she died
During the prolonged investigation, the crime branch recorded the statements of more than 15 people, including the woman's six co-passengers, personnel from the highway safety police whose van was at the spot, witnesses, doctors and nurses.
Suspecting that something was amiss, the crime branch decided to conduct a polygraph test of the driver as well as the complainant.
Lied out of fear
“While my client immediately gave his consent for the polygraph test, the complainant did not agree. She then spilled the beans,” Sarika Monde, Kushwaha’s lawyer, said.
Confirming that she confessed to lying, police said the woman's statement was recorded once again before the court, which granted bail to the driver. Kushwaha, who was imprisoned for two months, has been cleared of murder and molestation charges.
“The complainant told the court that she had cooked up the story because she was terrified of her family's reaction to her daughter's death,” Monde said.
Kushwaha is still facing charges for violations under the Motor Vehicles Act. He had been driving an eight-seater Eeco cab on the highway without a permit.
“As per the Motor Vehicles Act, the woman carrying her 10-month-old child should not have been allowed to sit next to the driver’s seat. Also, there was no child restraint system in the vehicle and the door was improperly shut by the woman. The driver was responsible for the upkeep of his passengers’ safety,” said an officer of the MBVV police.
What actually happened
The woman boarded the cab at Pelhar to go to her village in Palghar district. She was carrying a bag and her 10-month-old baby and was seated next to the driver’s seat. But the door was not shut properly.
“At one point, the vehicle took a right turn and the gate opened. The child, who was on the woman's lap seated next to the door, fell off the moving cab that was in the middle lane. In a bid to save her child, the woman also fell down,” said a traffic police officer.
When they fell, Kushwaha immediately applied emergency brakes. A patrolling van of the highway safety police was just behind the cab and cops saw people carrying the bleeding infant inside the cab and the driver helped the woman get up.
“They were first taken to two private hospitals and then to a civic hospital in Nalasopara. The girl was declared brought dead at the first hospital itself and the woman had not mentioned anything about sexual harassment and murder of her child. She cooked up the story only after she learnt about her daughter's death at the second private hospital,” said Monde.
“We feel sorry for her irreparable loss, but her fake allegation imprisoned my client who had to be imprisoned for two months,” the advocate said.
“Our investigations are still underway. It will take a few more days to submit the charge sheet in this case,” a crime branch officer said.