Though a 20-year-old student complained to the police that a taxi driver had made sexual remarks and threatened her, officials at Gamdevi station maintained that she had just got into an argument with the driver and refused to register a case of sexual harassment.
The police allegedly manipulated the complaint details, and filed a non-cognisable offence instead of a cognisable case. The driver was charged for breach of peace and let off after he paid a fine of Rs 1,200 for acting indecently in public.
The complaint, registered by police sub-inspector Nitin Mahadik, states that the accused, Irsar Ahmed Ali Khan, “insulted” the victim. “Khan and the victim got into an argument over taxi fare. There was no sexual harassment involved in the case,” said Mahadik.
The victim disagrees. “I told Mahadik the driver sexually harassed me. I did not know that a policeman would frame a case inappropriately.” The victim alleges after this correspondent spoke to Mahadik on Friday, he asked her not to speak to the media. “Mahadik told me not to tell the correspondent I was sexually harassed and said I should maintain that I had an argument over the fare,” she said.
Pradip Lonandkar, senior inspector of Gamdevi police station, said he was not aware the girl had been sexually harassed. “If the case has been registered with incorrect details, I will make sure action is taken against everyone responsible,” he said.
Before the complaint was filed, a family friend of the victim spoke to Mahadik, who advised him to file a non-cognisable complaint if he wanted to avoid legal hassles. “The cop asked if we wanted to file an FIR or NC case. I said the police know best but that they should make sure the accused does not go scot-free,” the friend said. “I can’t understand why police are protecting the driver.”
‘I trusted the policeman’
I took a cab from Grant Road station. On reaching college, I realised that the cab’s meter was not working and offered to pay the driver the usual fare. He got agitated and started making sexual remarks and threatening me.
I was shocked initially, but I recovered and started shouting for the security guard of my college. The guard came and dragged the driver inside the college. There were a few teachers around who started yelling at the driver after I told them what had happened and everyone started beating him up. He confessed and apologised.
I was extremely scared and I was crying. The teachers called the police who came and asked me to go to Gamdevi police station to file a complaint. When I reached the station, no one was interested in my story. So, I called up a family friend who told me to hand the phone to the duty officer, Nitin Mahadik. After my friend made references to a few senior officers, he asked my friend whether we want to file an FIR or a non-cognisable case. My friend clearly told him that we did not want the driver to be let off.
After the call, the policemen offered refreshments to me and began hitting the driver.
I told Mahadik the details, but he filed a non-cognisable offence. Because he was speaking in Marathi, I didn’t understand what he was writing in the report and he did not explain. I trusted the policemen.
I was extremely scared after the incident. It brought back memories of a similar incident that had happened to me in Malad. I couldn’t do much then because the auto driver escaped, but this time, I knew I had to take action.
(Identity of the victim and her friend withheld to protect her identity.)