Twelve of the 14 youths, arrested for allegedly molesting two NRI women on New Year Day, on Wednesday denied any involvement in the incident, while one of them claimed he was not even in the city that night.
"Twelve of us were passing through the area that night when we saw a crowd of around 150 people. Three of us went to check as to what was happening and our photographs were clicked. It was very dark," Nilesh Bagaitkar told a press conference in the building compound in suburban Vile Parle where the group of 12 youths stay.
Two NRI girls hailing from Gujarat and settled in USA, accompanied by two men, were molested and groped by a crowd of over 70 men on exiting from a five-star hotel in suburban Juhu after a dance performance by actor Bipasha Basu. Two press photographers had clicked pictures of the incident.
Fourteen youths, including one who had surrendered, were arrested by the police on Friday and all the accused were freed yesterday after being granted bail.
A relationship manager with a private insurance company Amit Kapoor, who was also arrested, said, "I was celebrating with friends in (Navi Mumbai's) Vashi that night and also have proof of the same. Police took me saying I will be treated as a normal man but instead arrested me falsely."
Mohan Jadhav, the chairman of the housing society here, where the group stays, questioned as to who gave the right to the media to call the boys as "accused" in the case and added he was the one who had handed over the twelve to the police. MORE
"Amit was not in the group, which had left for Juhu at around 0030 hours and returned at around 0230 hours, immediately after the cane charge by the police at the spot. We are contemplating filing a defamation case in the matter as our boys are unnecessarily targeted," Jadhav said.
His 19-year-old son Derek said, "We had consumed liquor but were in control. Our future has been destroyed due to the incident but the photographers, who must have had saved the girls rather than clicking, made money and name through it. We had consumed liquor but were in control."
Stating that the group cannot identify the real accused in the case as it was dark at the spot, Derek "described" the incident and alleged that the girls were drunk, abusive and kissing their companions in public.
Derek also contradicted the photographer's claim that one of them had gone and called a passing police party led by CP (traffic) Amarjeet Singh and said, "Two of us called the police. The photographers were only clicking."
Except for the 14th person, who had surrendered, all were present at the briefing arranged after their return from Shirdi, where they are said to have visited the Sai Baba temple.