The BEST bus conductor, who had verbally abused and threatened 19-year-old Gazala Shaikh nearly a month ago, was arrested by the Oshiwara police on Sunday night.
The police had, on December 11, taken a non-cognisable (NC) offence complaint in the case. However, an FIR was registered on January 5, after HT published a report about the girl’s plight.
“Bus conductor Sandeep Satpute was arrested on Sunday. He was released on bail after he was produced before a metropolitan court on Monday,” said Dilip Rupawate, senior inspector, Oshiwara police station.
Satpute, during his interrogation, told the police that he too had complained about Shaikh’s behaviour to the BEST bus depot concerned.
He alleged that the girl had refused to show him her ticket and that he had only retaliated to her rude behaviour.
The police said they were probing whether Satpute’s had similar cases or records against him with the BEST or the local police.
On December 10, 2012, Shaikh, a second year BCom student of Vivek College, Goregaon (West), boarded BEST bus route number 201 from near her residence at 7.
“I had my earphones on and was listening to music. As the bus approached Oshiwara, someone pushed me from behind. When I checked, I saw it was the conductor asking for a ticket,” Shaikh had told HT.
According to Shaikh, the conductor started to abuse her for not responding to his call. When she argued, he allegedly tried to hit her.
When she got off the bus, the accused made obscene gestures, following which Shaikh approached the BEST authorities and the Oshiwara police.
After HT reported to matter on January 5, the Oshiwara police contacted the girl for the first time since December 11, took her statement and added section 354 of the IPC (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty).
The NC was then converted into an FIR following which Satpute was called to the Oshiwara police station.
When contacted, Shaikh told HT, “BEST officials informed me that the conductor had been dismissed and that the Oshiwara police have arrested him. When I had independently approached them after the incident, they said they would conduct a judicial inquiry. And after HT took up my case, the procedure was suddenly ruled out and he was dismissed and arrested.”