A 28-year-old man was shot dead and his 30-year-old girlfriend raped by a man who was allegedly part of a gang of robbers, who Monday accosted the couple in Titwala, 45 km away from Thane. The couple was on a motorcycle ride on an isolated road and were going back to their homes.
The woman was taken to the Central Hospital in Ulhasnagar for a medical examination and discharged on Tuesday, while Ganesh Dinkar was declared dead at the hospital, police said. Twenty four hours after the incident, police are yet to identify the accused, even as locals claimed the road between Ambernath to Chinchpada, where the incident took place, is a known hideout for “anti-social elements”.
According to police, Dinkar and his friend were on a Royal Enfield motorcycle Monday night near Nalimbi village on the Ambernath-Chinchpada road. “The incident occurred around 9:00 pm. According to the woman’s statement, she was standing alone with the bike while the man had gone inside the jungle to relieve himself,” said Mahesh Patil, Superintendent of Thane rural police.
In her statement, the victim told police a man armed with a gun had threatened her. “When Dinkar realised what was happening, he ran back to the woman and tried to fight the man off. However, he was shot two to three times in his upper body, chest and neck,” Patil said.
The assailant then allegedly dragged the woman to a thicket of trees around the road and raped her, police said. “She has suffered injuries of sexual assault. She is also in extreme shock,” Patil said.
Police also said the assailants left the woman in the bushes after one of them had raped her and that the they stole both their phones and Dinkar’s bike, on which they fled. The woman, police said, ran to the outskirts of Nalimbi village crying for help.
“The case was lodged with the Ambernath police station but has been transferred to the Titwala police. Several teams of Murbad region and even the Thane rural crime branch are working on the incident,” said a senior officer from Thane rural police.
Dinkar worked at a Chinese stall in Ambernath and the girl is from Kalyan, police said. “Dinkar was riding his elder brother’s motorcycle. The stall where he works as a helper is also his brother’s. We were told by the girl that she was dating the man and they used to take several bike-rides together on his days off,” an officer from the Titwala police station said.
According to residents of Nalimbi village, the Ambernath-Chinchpada road had heavy tree cover on both sides of the road and provided perfect cover for many anti-social elements.
“We don’t generally venture on this road after dark as there are many drunkards and robbers sitting behind the trees. The area is also used by couples for privacy. However, the road is used as a picnic spot by the children in the day,” said Nilesh Pawar, a resident.
Another local, requesting anonymity, said, “Local goons and robbers are known to frequent the place.”
Patil denied the allegations. “There has never been any crime reported from the area. All our teams are working hard, we will nab the criminals,” he said.