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Mumbai woman molested by men she filmed hacking mangroves

Mumbai city news: Five people named in FIR, two of whom are minors; one person arrested

mumbai Updated: Jul 14, 2017 00:37 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
Activists allege mangroves are destroyed regularly to build shanties along the Charkop creek.

A 44-year-old woman, who regularly reported cases of mangrove destruction to the local police and the state, was allegedly sexually assaulted by five people in June this year.

The Charkop police have filed a case of rape and assault. One person has been arrested.

According to the first-information-report (FIR) filed by the police, two of the five people are minors.

The police said the incident took place on June 25 at Sai Dham Nagar in Charkop, adjacent to the Gorai creek, which has a notified mangrove cover of 26.56 hectares.

The survivor told HT she had spotted the five people from Kandivli destroying over 1,200 mangrove trees across a five-acre patch at Sai Dham to construct illegal shanties.

“I took a video of the five cutting the trees and building the shanties. I shared the video with the mangrove cell officials and the police. Once they were asked to stop the work, the five accused came to my house, which is close to the five-acre patch,” the woman said.

“They hit me on my face with a rod and two of the men sexually assaulted me,” she added.

Officers from the Charkop police station confirmed the woman had been assaulted.

The police, however, said even though five people were named in the FIR, only three were present at the spot where the incident took place.

“We have arrested one of the three, while the remaining two, of which one is a minor, are absconding,” said Vikram Deshmane, deputy commissioner of police, Zone XI.

Mangrove cell officials confirmed the complainant had been providing information to them about debris dumping, mangrove hacking and illegal constructions on mangroves over the past four years. This is the first time an attack has been reported against a person highlighting cases of mangrove destruction.

The survivor said all she wanted was to protect the environment from the land mafia. She said she was forced to send her mother back to her hometown in Gujarat because of the fear of her being attacked. There are currently 500 illegal shanties at the spot even after repeated demolition drives, she said. “At first, the police refused to file an FIR and after contacting a local NGO, their lawyer called up the police commissioner’s officer and the FIR was finally filed.”

“I received four stitches on my face and my back still has the marks from when I was attacked,” she said adding, “These men are involved in constructing these shanties that are 150 sqft in size, which they sell for Rs10-12 lakh to people looking for accommodation.”

Read more:
Vikhroli mangroves in Mumbai store 6 lakh tonnes of carbon, says study

First Published: Jul 14, 2017 00:35 IST