Fearing for her life, a 22-year-old girl, who had filed a complaint against a former autorickshaw driver accusing him of rape, has sought police protection after he allegedly confessed to killing 10 women in the coastal state.
"We are examining the (girl's) application," Superintendent of Police (North district) Tony Fernandes said, adding that they were "reviewing the entire case by appointing a special team of officers".
The girl, who was a friend of accused Mahanand Naik's wife Pooja and was allegedly blackmailed and raped by him for three years, said, "I feel unsafe to go around as I may be targeted by the people who do not want Mahanand to be exposed."
The victim was the first one to approach Ponda police recently with the complaint against the 40-year-old who police claimed has "confessed" to killing 10 women since 1994.
"She is the sole victim who is alive and has been a catalyst in cracking the cases. I request that protection be given to her," Auda Viegas of NGO 'Bailancho Ekvott' who is counseling the victim said in a letter to the police.
"We also have a reasons to suspect danger to her from others who were beneficiaries of Mahanand's diabolic plans to grow rich," Viegas said adding "the girl is the major evidence against Mahanand."
The victim alleged that Mahanand raped her once in 2005 by calling her at his place on the pretext of a drama rehearsal. "Thereafter he went on exploiting me physically and even blackmailed me with my obscene photographs," she claimed.
The complainant claimed that Pooja "knew" that Mahanand was raping her. "Once I even complained to her but she ignored," she told PTI adding," I never imagined him to be such a criminal.".
Mahanand, who is married and is a father to a one-and -half-year-old daughter, allegedly used to lure unsuspecting girls with a promise to marry them but would strangulate them to death and run away with their gold ornaments.
The police records indicate that Mahanand has "confessed" to killing ten women identified as: Darshana Tukaram Naik (1994), Vasanti Gaude (1995), Sunita Gaonkar (2003), Anjani Gaonkar (2005), Surat Gaonkar (2006), Kesar Naik (2007), Nirmala Ghadi (2007), Sushila Fatarpekar (2007), Nayan Gaonkar (2008) and Yogita Naik (2009).