Mumbai: Two assistant police inspectors and a constable were arrested yesterday on the charge of raping a 28-year-old model, the second time in nine months that Mumbai policemen have been accused of rape.
Five other men were arrested today for allegedly assisting the three accused policemen.
Last July, deputy inspector-general Sunil Paraskar, 57, was charged with raping a 25-year-old model. He is suspended and out on bail.
In both cases, the accused were arrested after the women directly approached Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria.
“I have asked the crime branch to take over the investigation. We have lodged the FIR on our own,” Maria told The Telegraph.
“Rape is a very serious allegation. Here we are commissioning ad spots to run in cinemas and elsewhere about how Mumbai police are women’s protectors, and here are these black sheep in the force.”#The arrests came after the model texted her ordeal to Maria on Tuesday. “The commissioner asked her to meet him at his office on Wednesday. A crime branch team too was present,” additional commissioner (crime) K.M.M. Prasanna said.
“She came and told us what had happened. Prima facie it seemed a genuine case, and a ‘Zero FIR’ was lodged. All the accused have been arrested.”
A Zero FIR is one that has been filed at any convenient police station irrespective of the place of crime or jurisdiction, and might later be transferred to the appropriate police station.
Serious crimes like murder and rape require immediate action by the authorities, which a Zero FIR enables them to do rather than waste time figuring out jurisdiction.
Sometimes police stations mischievously pretend to be unaware of the concept.
The police have registered cases for rape, stalking, extortion, wrongful restraint and confinement, voluntarily causing hurt, common intention and abetment. All eight accused were sent to police custody today.#Officers said the model had alleged the rape happened in the early hours of April 4. She said she was returning from an audition for a Bollywood film at a five-star hotel near the airport on April 3 night.
“When she stepped out of the hotel near the Sakinaka Road junction in Andheri, the three police officers, dressed in civilian clothes, accosted her,” deputy commissioner Dhananjay Kulkarni said.
“They told her they were from Sakinaka police station. Then they forced her to get into a vehicle. She says they threatened to book her for prostitution if she did not.”
Police sources said the vehicle was a private car. She was first taken to Sakinaka police station where, the model has alleged, she was asked to pay Rs 5 lakh or face prostitution charges.
“Frightened, she called up her boyfriend who told her he could secure a part of the sum from his mother. The model called her own mother and arranged for some more money,” a police source said.
“Her boyfriend then went from one ATM to another, collecting a little over Rs 4.5 lakh in all.”
Assistant inspector Sunil Katape and Suresh Suryavanshi and constable Yogesh Ponde took the model to a police chowki in Sangharsh Nagar and took turns raping her. The chowki is overseen by Sakinaka police station, to which the three cops belong.
“When her boyfriend arrived at Sakinaka police station around 3.30-4am, she was brought back to the station but the money he produced was not enough,” a police source said.
“These three (cops) asked the model to take off her jewellery and watch — she said they amounted to about Rs 80,000. Then she was let off.”
The frightened model, a small-town girl from Maharashtra, left Mumbai the same day. She returned to the city last week.
On Tuesday she sent a message to Maria briefly describing what happened to her.
“We immediately got all checks done as rape is a very serious crime. On Wednesday, Katape, Suryavanshi and Ponde were first arrested. Later five others — Javed Sheikh, Sanjay Range, Tanvir Hashmi, Ayesha Malviya and Ibrahim Khan — were also arrested. Investigations are on. They may be operating as part of a gang blackmailing models and escorts, and may be information suppliers,” Kulkarni said.
The case, initially lodged at Sakinaka, has been taken over by the Mumbai crime branch so the model does not have to visit the police station where the incident happened.