A 37-year-old separated woman with two kids to support was lured with a job offer from a prominent night club, beaten and raped twice inside a car on the pretext of being given a lift on the night of February 5. And when she went to Park Street police station to lodge an FIR, she was mocked by the cops there. At least, this is what the woman claimed on Wednesday.
The cops later took her complaint and on Wednesday night the police picked up two of the guys named by the woman. The woman was also brought to Lalbazar for questioning.
Those named in the FIR are Luvi Gidwani (whose photograph she fished out from Facebook), Sharafat Ali, Azhar Ali and Salman.
She went to the Park Street police station to file an FIR on February 7 two days after the incident, but the police filed only a general complaint. An FIR was registered only on February 9. The woman accused officers of the Park Street police station of not only displaying a callous attitude, but also of harassing her. The incident has raised questions on the security of single women travelling in Kolkata, traditionally considered safe for women.
"When I had mustered enough courage to go to the police station to lodge the FIR, I was harassed. Even yesterday, when I went to speak to the officers with my aunt, they misbehaved with me. Two policemen also made lewd comments," the victim told HT. "While I was at the police station, the officers remarked that it was Valentine's Day and asked me if I would go out for a drink with them. I was shocked!" she added.
"The officers delayed the medical test. Neither did they cooperate with me when I volunteered to make a statement to the judge,' she said. The victim was given a date for a medical test on February 14, which should have been done immediately after the complaint being registered.
"This is a shocking incident. We've begun investigations and the culprits won't be spared. One accused is identified. Regarding misbehaviour of the police officers, departmental proceedings will take place, followed by the necessary action," Damayanti Sen, joint commissioner (Detective Department), said.
Sen also said that Gidwani's father had turned up at the Kolkata Police headquarters and claimed that his son was in Canada, where he had gone for his studies. Luvi Gidwani had gone there in January, his father added.
The opposition did not waste the opportunity to get at the government's throat.
"The incident proves to what extent law and order has deteriorated in the city," CPI(M) politburo member and former industries minister Nirupam Sen said. The incident happened at about 2am on February 5, when the woman, along with her friends, visited a club in Park Street. Thereafter, they went to a popular nightclub. There, she befriended a young man, called Luvi Gidwani, who claimed to own a call centre and offered her an HR job.
"It was about 1.45 in the night and he wanted to give me a lift home. I refused the offer, but he insisted and said his car was parked nearby. I reluctantly agreed. But, when I entered the car, four others jumped in," the woman said.
Sensing danger, she tried to get out of the car, when Sharafat Ali, one of the young men, pulled her down to the floor of the car and started beating her up. He also stuck a gun in her mouth and threatened to pull the trigger.
She begged and screamed, but no one came to her rescue. Sharafat raped her twice in the moving car and repeatedly beat her up. She was later kicked out of the car near the Exide crossing. Somehow, she managed to get back home in a taxi.
Getting over her initial trauma, and prodded by friends, she visited the Park Street police station two days later and lodged a complaint. The Detective Department has taken over the case and has identified one of the assailants.