An 18-year-old girl was groped and almost stripped on a street in Kandivli (West) in broad daylight on Monday by a group of a dozen young men. Worse, when she ran into a nearby restaurant for help, the management threw her out instead of coming to her aid.
Eventually she was rescued by passersby and a police beat marshal. One of the accused was picked up immediately, but the girl was unwilling to press charges. It took the police hours to convince her and her family to register a complaint, following which two more men were arrested. The incident comes within weeks of police commissioner Rakesh Maria announcing that tackling crime against women was his topmost priority.
The incident occurred around 4.30pm near Aman Welfare Society at Hindustan Naka, Kandivli.
The girl and her friend, both Malad residents, had come from Bandra to Hindustan Naka in an auto. While getting off, they realized that they did not have enough cash to pay the fare. The girl's friend said she had a relative who stayed close by and left to borrow cash. When she did not return for quite some time, the girl decided to look for her.
But the auto driver insisted that he be paid. "So, the girl handed him her cellphone as security. But while the driver and she were having a loud argument, some young men who were playing cricket started to gather near the spot," said an eyewitness. "When the girl started to leave the spot, the men began teasing her."
As the terrified girl broke into a sprint, the men started chasing her. They caught up with her and nearly stripped her. Kicking and screaming, she ran to a nearby restaurant, but the management drove her out. She also tried to enter another auto, but the men dragged her out. Hearing her cries, a motorist stopped and hit one of the men."
By then, a beat marshal, Ravindra Patil, had reached the spot and took one of the men into custody, while the others fled. The girl was taken to a beat chowky, but she refused to file an FIR. "It took us a few hours to convince the girl and her family to press charges. After an FIR was lodged late in the night, we took two more men into custody. We are looking for their accomplices," said zonal DCP B Rajpoot. The police are believed to have detained some suspects for questioning.
The arrests were made under the IPC's section 354 (molestation). The arrested men are Fayyaz Ahmed Khan (20), Saroj Khan (20) and Naushad Khan (24). They do odd jobs in the construction and transport industry.