Colleagues of the three policemen arrested on Thursday in connection with the alleged rape of a 29-year-old model in a police chowky and extortion of money from her have told the Mumbai police crime branch that they saw the victim being brought to the police station by the arrested policemen.
The three police personnel — assistant police inspectors Sunil Khatpe and Suresh Suryavanshi and police constable Yogesh Ponde — were arrested, along with five civilians, including a woman, on Thursday after the model approached Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, alleging that she was taken to the Sangharsh Nagar police chowky on the night of April 2 and held there till the afternoon of April 3. The victim alleged that the accused extorted nearly Rs 10 lakh from her and a male friend. She also claimed that Khatpe forced her to perform oral sex on him twice at the chowky.
The victim, in her statement, told the crime branch that she was first taken to the Sakinaka police station and from there to the chowky, while her friend was held in the police station and made to arrange for cash. Crime branch sources said on Saturday that police personnel, who were on night duty at the time, gave statements confirming that they saw the three arrested policemen bring the victim to the police station.
“We have recorded statements of some personnel at the Sakinaka police station, and they corroborate the statement given by the victim. Closed Circuit Television Camera footage from the police station is being examined,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Atulchandra Kulkarni.
Officials said investigations so far indicated that the entire plan, which was supposed to be an extortion bid in the guise of an anti-prostitution raid, was masterminded by Ibrahim Khan, one of the arrested accused. Khan, who is a reporter with a local publication, was on good terms with the arrested policemen and told them about the victim who he said would be a suitable target.
“Sanjay Range, another arrested accused, who posed as a model coordinator, had told Khan that they could extract money from the victim if they scared her into believing that she had been caught in an anti-flesh trade operation. Khan then convinced the other accused about the plan,” said a Crime Branch officer.
Meanwhile, interrogation of the arrested accused has thrown up the name of one more suspect, who is now wanted in the case. The police said that the room in the Sakinaka hotel, where the victim was called, was booked using the credit card of the suspect, identified as Sikander Mirza.
“We visited Mirza’s residence on Saturday, but he is missing. We are trying to trace his location,” said the officer.