Three major incidents of sexual assault/molestation and abuse grabbed headlines in a span of two months in Bengaluru last year. These incidents also triggered public outrage, protests and campaigns demanding justice.
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However, the limelight slowly faded away with the passing of time. The demands for justice have faded down, with most of the public forgetting the cases. At this juncture, Citizen Matters brings you a brief note on those cases with latest updates.
The three cases that were of significance not just for the incident itself, but also due to various angles attached to it, are:
1. Case against IPS officer Dr P Ravindranath for allegedly clicking photographs of a young woman in a cafeteria
2. Alleged sexual assault on a six-year-old girl at Vibgyor High School in Marathahalli
3. Alleged abduction and rape of a 22-year-old college student at Frazer Town
A case of a cop clicking a woman’s photo
On May 26th, 2014 a shocking incident was reported in media. Unlike the routine eve-teasing incidents, here the person who was alleged to have clicked the photograph of a young woman in a cafeteria in Cunningham Road was IPS officer ADGP P Ravindranath. The officer who was known for honesty and upright attitude was caught clicking the photograph of a 30-year-old woman and was then handed over to the police, allegedly by the public.
The officer not only rejected the allegation, but also termed the entire episode as a conspiracy to malign his image. He blamed the then Bengaluru city police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar of staging the incident for professional jealousy. Cases were booked against Ravindranath under Section 354 (assault a woman with the intention of outraging her modesty) and 506 (criminal intimidation) at the High Grounds police station.
Subsequently, a high drama unfolded with Ravindranath tendering resignation to his post and employees of Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) of which he was the ADGP coming in his support and staging a massive protest. Facebook pages were also created demanding “justice to Ravindranath.” All this led the IPS officer to withdraw his resignation.
The case also picked up a castiest angle, as Dalit organisations across the state jumping to streets in support of Ravindranath, who belongs to SC/ST category. Ravindranath lodged a complaint against the then city police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar, then-DCP (Central) B R Ravikanthe Gowda and then-High Grounds Sub Inspector M S Ravi under SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act. He complained that the three officers implicated him in a false case.
In a turn around of events, the State government transferred Ravindranath to Research and Restructuring Wing of Karnataka State Police in Dharwad as ADGP and handed over the photograph case to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The CID officials who investigated the case filed a charge sheet within a month. However, the CID in its charge sheet, dropped the two earlier charges (Section 354 and 506) against Ravindranath and booked him under Section 509 of the IPC (word, gesture or act intended to outrage the modesty of a woman).
The CID submitted the charge sheet to the High Court where the case was being heard. Ravindranath filed a petition in the High Court in July 2014 challenging charge sheet filed by the CID. The High Court allowed his petition.
Main case settled amicably out of court
On April 3rd, 2015, the case saw a peaceful end. The High Court quashed the case after the victim and Ravindranath opted for amicable settlement.
Though the case against him has been quashed, everything is not yet over for Ravindranath. He is in no mood to withdraw the atrocity case he has filed against the three police officers. Speaking to Citizen Matters, Ravindranath said that he is happy about the court’s decision to quash the case. This was done after the complainant, the victim whose photo was taken agreed not to prosecute, and the case was settled amicably out of court.
However, this does not stop him from pursuing the atrocity case. “CID has filed a B report in the atrocity case I filed against three police officials. The High Court has asked me whether I will accept the B report or not. I have decided not to accept the B report and would proceed further, requesting for a fresh investigation into the matter,” he said.
With this, though the main case will not proceed, the tussle between the police officials-Ravindranath and Auradkar, is likely to continue.
Vibgyor school rape case
In the second week of July 2014, the news of a sexual assault sent jitters down the spines of the public, especially parents with their children studying in schools. For, this shocking incident revealed how a six-year-old child of Class I in Marathahalli’s Vibgyor High school was sexually assaulted by school staff. The incident reflected how unsafe children studying in schools were.
The child, though was sexually assaulted on July 2nd, allegedly revealed the ordeal to her parents only after a few days. The parents filed a complaint in Varthur police station on July 9th 2014, in which they suspected the sports and performing arts teacher and another unidentified man of assaulting the child. An FIR was filed.
However, the issue grabbed the attention only after it appeared in a section of the media including online sites in mid-July. A large number of parents staged protests in front of Vibgyor High alleging the school management of keeping them in dark about the incident.
Parents demanded that the school management come out with explanation and also urged the police to take swift action for the arrest of culprits. As the protests continued and pressure mounted, the police arrested one Mustafa, a skating instructor at the school and declared that he was the main accused in the case. Then-city police commissioner Raghavendra Auradkar even claimed in the press meet that there was “incriminating evidence” in Mustafa’s laptop, referring to child porn clips allegedly found on his laptop.
Subsequently, School Chairman Rustom Kerawalla too was arrested and was booked under various sections of IPC and Juvenile Justice Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). He was later released on bail.
By the end of the month, police cut a sorry figure and ruled out Mustafa’s involvement in the sexual assault case. Instead, they arrested two others, Lal Giri and Wasim Pasha, who were the gymnastics instructors in the school. They were booked under Section 376D of the IPC (intercourse by any member of the management or staff of a hospital/women’s/children’s institution, with any woman there) and also invoked section 3 (penetrative sexual assault) and section 4 (punishment with imprisonment) under POCSO Act.
The case that was initially probed by the local police was handed over to the City Crime Branch for a quick investigation. By the end of October, the police filed a charge sheet of 750 pages against the main accused, Lal Giri and Wasim Pasha, and the school chairman for hushing up the matter. Raghavendra Auradkar was transferred to KSRP after the above two incidents.
After this incident, the police and the Education Department were prompted to issue fresh safety guidelines to schools.
Prime accused behind the bar, chairman out on bail
The case is now before the judiciary. The police had submitted charge sheet to the City Civil and Sessions Court by the end of October. The court has not yet given the summons to the witnesses for hearing, and the trial is yet to begin, said a police officer from Varthur police station. The prime accused, Lal Giri and Wasim are behind bars, and school chairman Kerawalla is out on bail.
Mustafa was released on bail. Watching child porn is an offence under IT Act section 67B and police can arrest an accused for this. But police did not charge Mustafa with this in the end. Instead, the police have slapped a separate case of molestation on him, which dates back to the days when he was employed in another school. Trial for this case also has not begun.
Frazer Town rape case
Another incident that sent shockwaves was the case of alleged abduction and sexual assault of a 22-year-old college student in Frazer Town. On July 13th, 2014, a postgraduate student from a Mangalore-based college, filed a sexual assault complaint at Frazer Town police station. The complainant said that she was returning home from a dinner party on July 11th 2014. As she was chatting with her friend (who had come to drop her) seated in a car just outside her apartment at Frazer Town at around 11.30 pm, the car was surrounded by a gang of five men.
The gang allegedly entered the car, took charge of the driving seat and drove them to an abandoned place in Cox Town. They demanded a cash of Rs 50,000 from the girl. When she replied in negative, one Nazir Hyder sexually assaulted her. Then they released the victim and the boy near Cox Town railway tracks and fled away. After two days of the incident, the girl filed a complaint at Pulakeshi Nagar police station.
In fact, friends of the girl who were in search of the culprits, caught hold of the prime accused Nazir (son of a BSP leader) and handed him over to the police. Remaining accused were arrested much later. Meanwhile, the girl alleged the staff of Pulikeshi Nagar police station of making inordinate delay in filing FIR and of forcing her to change the tone of her written complaint.
Soon, Pulikeshi Nagar Inspector Mohammad Rafiq was arrested for the delay in filing FIR in the case. The State government also issued an order to suspend him. There were protests by public every day, political leaders hogging most of the limelight.
No trials yet in the case
Chargesheet in the case was filed in September 2014. Chargesheet submitted to the 11th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court has named Nazir Hyder as the main accused, followed by Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Ishaq Dawood, Shoaib Sheikh Mohammed and Shafiq. The accused have been booked under Section 364A (kidnapping for ransom), 376 (rape), 395 (dacoity), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 417 (cheating).
Of the five accused, four have been granted bail, whereas the bail plea by Nazir was rejected in the local court as well as the High Court. Pulakeshi Nagar Assistant Commissioner of Police Noor Ullah Shariff informed Citizen Matters that the case plea has been admitted in the court, but the court is yet to give summons to the witnesses to appear for hearing.
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