A dozen policemen and women who investigated some of the most brutal and disturbing incidents of sexual assault in the city in the past two years have spoken for the first time of their emotions while conducting their investigations. A near-complete 90-minute film on them will soon air in film theaters in the segment before feature films.
The yet untitled film is the latest work of city-based filmmaker Vibha Bakshi, who filmed the aftermath of the 2012 gangrape in New Delhi in her 2014 documentary Daughters Of Mother India.
Over the last two months, Bakshi and her team have spoken to the investigators of the Shakti Mills gangrape of an intern photojournalist and the gangrape of a rag-picker in Mulund by nine men – both in 2013. She has also interviewed policemen who hunted for Ayaz Ansari, the one-eyed man who molested young girls in Mumbai for an entire year before being arrested in 2014.
“I wanted to document a case that had attracted a large amount of media focus, another that did not find as much mention in spite of being just as brutal and a third that had the police baffled for a long time. After speaking to the cops, I found that each case was dealt with the same amount of seriousness,” Bakshi said.
The film comprises three segments, one devoted to each case, and has only police personnel speaking to the camera. Bakshi said that she chose four personnel for each case. “There was a constable, a woman officer, the lead investigating officer and senior inspector. We shot at the police stations so that they would feel comfortable. We spent a day and half shooting each case,” she said.
She recalled that shooting with the officer who investigated the Mulund gangrape proved most eye-opening. “The perpetrators were convinced that the woman would be turned away if she approached the police. She was in a very bad state, but the female officer made sure she got a proper medical test done. When we spoke to her, she left the crew stunned. She said, ‘I will fight for the woman.’ The entire team made sure that they had a water-tight case.”
The Shakti Mills gangrape investigators are heard on camera praising the 22-year-old victim’s composure in the aftermath of the tragedy. “The investigating officer gives all credit to the survivor,” Bakshi said. “A crime branch constable says that he would have chased the rapists even if he hadn’t been a policeman,” Bakshi recounts.
While filming the team behind the serial molestor probe, Bakshi said that she found them working on the case as if they were parents. “One constable said that he would be haunted every day by the delay in catching the accused. He would think, Who’s next?” Who will the accused prey on tomorrow?’” Bakshi said. She added, “One officer admitted that he was ashamed of his failure to catch the accused because he had two daughters himself,” she said. With the film almost complete and awaiting viewing by Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, Bakshi said that she has already received a seal of approval by law firm Majlis. “They work on the ground and have represented the Shakti Mills survivor. So for them to tell to us that it a very responsible film is a very good feeling,” Bakshi said.