The 13-year-old who was sexually abused by Vakola-based Shiv Sena shakha functionary Narayan Gaikar, 69, on December 12 and her parents fear for their safety as the accused who is out on bail has been menacingly prowling around their house. DNA had reported the abuse on December 28.
The victim’s father is a daily-wage labourer while her mother works as a domestic help in the buildings nearby. The family lives in constant fear since Gaikar enjoys a clout in the neighbourhood due to his political connections. PSI Pallavi Kulkarni who is handling investigations says the family should come to the police if they fear for their safety. “If they come to us we will provide security,” she offered.
Soon after the incident, the victim kept quiet but the trauma led to high fever. “She used to be quiet. But some of her friends who play with her near our chawl told me that she’d confided in them. It took several days for her to open up. She finally broke down and told me what had happened on 21st afternoon when she saw Gaikar lurking around the house again.” The mother told DNA that her daughter was playing outside the temple near her house on December 12 when the accused called her and other children and asked them to sweep the premises. “He offered them Rs 5 each and they agreed. He told her to sweep a room used like a vyayamshala (gym) on the side.”
“When my daughter went in, he pinned her to the wall and tried to force himself on her,” she says, breaking down while the daughter sits with downcast eyes in the one room home. “She pushed him away, managed to unlatch the door and flee,” the mother continues. The victim ran home when she saw Gaikar coming out. The family then approached Vakola police and an FIR was lodged on December 22 and a charge was made against Gaikar under Sec 354 (molestation). the police do not seem to have satisfactory answers on why a charge was not made against the accused for abusing a minor or why she was not sent for a medical examination. PSI Kulkarni insists, “This is only a molestation, not sexual abuse. So we did not feel it necessary to refer her for medical examination.” She could not say why the fact that the victim was minor did not reflect in the charges. While angry shiv sainiks in the neighbourhood told DNA that the charge was trumped up, local corporator Sanjay Potnis said Gaikar had nothing to do with the party. “Just because he helped me in elections, he doesn’t become a shiv sainik, does he?” he asked.
Women’s rights group Majlis which runs a rape victims support group has taken up the case and met the family on Saturday. Advocate Flavia Agnes who heads the organisation told DNA, “The child and her parents will need several rounds of counselling. Our priority is that. We will then start the legal process.”