Sohanlal Valmiki – who disappeared after serving a seven-year jail term for assaulting nurse Aruna Shanbaug – claimed that he had neither raped the nurse, nor had he strangled her with a dog chain.
Valmiki, in his late sixties, said he had just slapped the nurse hard, following which she fell down and fainted.
Shanbaug was a staff nurse at the KEM Hospital when she was attacked by sweeper Valmiki on the evening of November 27,1973. To immobilise her, he wrapped a dog chain around Shanbaug’s neck and yanked her back with it. After the brutal attack, she lived in a vegetative state for 42 years till her death on May 18.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, nearly 30 km away from his village, Parpa, Valmiki, said Shanbaug used to repeatedly hurl casteist comments at him, infuriating him gravely on the day of the assault.
Watch: Aruna Shanbaug's attacker denies rape
“It was never my intention to hit her but that day I got livid with her repeated behavior and slapped her hard. I could not tolerate her behavior further. As a result she fell down and fainted. Seeing her faint, I ran outside the hospital towards my house. She hurled words like ‘Mehtar’ and other similar words at me and her relation with me was not cordial at all. She was, in fact, friendly with other staff members. Once I even asked the senior doctor to shift my duty from the department,” he said.
“She would give me extra work of mopping and sweeping floors and I did them silently. I also tried to tell her to change her attitude towards me but she continued. After the incident, I arrived the next day at the hospital and told the attendance staff that I am leaving for Pune as some of my wife’s relatives were not keeping well,” he added.
Thereafter, Valmiki said he left for Pune with his wife Vimla, who stayed with him at Mumbai and knew about the incident. He added that he earned only Rs 150 per month from the hospital.
“While I was in Pune, police arrived and took me away and slapped the case against me. I was jailed. It was never a rape or a sodomy incident. I underwent medical examination as she also did and the doctors found nothing to reveal rape or other act in the medical report. Had there been any such sort of incident, it would have come in the medical reports. There was no such incident as people tell me about strangling Aruna’s throat with a chain,” he said.
“I was sentenced for 14 years of imprisonment but it was later commuted to seven years. While I was in jail, I hardly spoke to other inmates. I lost my daughter who was 6-7 months then. She had some health issue and could not survive,” Valmiki said.
Following his release from Yervada jail, Valmiki said he arrived at his native place at Dadupur in Bulandshahr and could not maintain a good relation with his brothers.
“My brothers taunted me and my in-laws told me to go to Parpa where they had some land. Since then, I had been in Parpa with my family. I recently heard that Aruna died and I was pained. I remember the day when I slapped her. I never thought that the incident would leave her in coma for so many years. I never narrated the incident to my sons who were born after it happened. My elder brothers at Bulandshahr might have told them,” he added.
Now, Valmiki is trying to elude the attention he has received after being traced to Parpa.
“I don’t feel strength in my legs when all the things of the past have surfaced yet again. I am in a fix as I have also served my sentence and don’t know why things are in the limelight again,” he added.