In an incident that will shatter our assumption that such heinous crimes are unheard of in cities, a local goon slapped, stripped and groped a woman in broad daylight while passers-by looked on in a residential area in Nalasopara. When she approached the police, instead of arresting the accused, they told her to fling chilli powder in the goon's face if he attacked her again.
The 32-year-old woman was walking along Gala Nagar road with her nephew on June 23, when a car came speeding from behind. In the nick of time, she pulled her nephew towards her to prevent him from being run over. The accused, a goon called Ravi Bidlan, stopped his car and started abusing the woman. When she tried to reason with him, he allegedly slapped her, groped her and then tore off her clothes while passers-by just watched.
The woman went to Nalasopara police station to lodge a complaint. The police registered an FIR under sections 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of woman), 506 (criminal intimidation), 507 (criminal intimidation by an anonymous communication), 427 (mischief causing damage), 34 (common intent) of the Indian Penal Code. All of these are bailable offences. The non-bailable section 354 (outraging the modesty of a woman) was not part of the FIR.
Two days later however, Bidlan and a few of his men broke into the woman's home, furious that she had approached the police. "They damaged windows and a cupboard. Bidlan told me that I should strip and apologise to him for not letting his car pass. When I refused, they chased me out and locked my house," said the woman.
The woman approached the police once again. "This time two constables accompanied me and broke the lock. When I told him what happened, a senior police officer told me to first throw chilli powder on them and later inform him so they could be arrested. I told the officer this was the second time I had been attacked, but the police did not arrest him," said the woman, who is so terrified that she is living in an unknown location so that Bidlan can't track her down. The police did not register a case of house trespassing.
Bidlan is part of a notorious gang led by his brother Pawan. A history-sheeter with several cases of assault, murder and extortion against him, Bidlan is banished from the Thane rural police's jurisdiction. Despite this, he is known to harass and extort locals, due to which he is feared by the people as well as the police.
"A case has been registered against the accused and they will be arrested soon. We will not tolerate any kind of goondaism in our jurisdiction. But the allegations made against the police officers are false," said Ravindra Badguzar, senior inspector of Nalasopara police station.