A retired police officer was arrested on Saturday in Mumbai 15 years after he allegedly returned three minor girls to the brothel from which they had been rescued.
Kalandar Shaikh, then senior inspector of Nagpada police, and a local political activist in Kamathipura, Ravindra Pandey, were arrested on Saturday after the police re-opened the investigation following orders from the metropolitan magistrate court in Sewri.
According to a complaint filed in 2004, the three girls were rescued in a joint operation at a brothel in Kamathipura by the Mumbai Police and an NGO. The girls were then sent to a shelter home.
However, on the day that the girls were to be produced in court as witnesses, the police informed the judge that they had been released from the shelter. The NGO that had originally come to the police with information about the brothel had approached senior police officers complaining about Shaikh’s actions.
After another raid at the same premises, the girls were rescued once more and they later told the court that Shaikh had sent them there. However, the probe came to a standstill when the girls were eventually allowed to go back to their homes after turning 18.
In 2016, the Mumbai Police filed a closure report at the Sewri court citing a lack of evidence to file a chargesheet. However, a magistrate who reviewed the investigation, found sufficient evidence, rejected the closure report and ordered the police to continue the probe.
Santosh Bagve, senior Inspector of Nagpada police, said that one of the three girls was recently traced to her home in West Bengal and her statement was freshly recorded. “Following her statement, we arrested Shaikh and Pandey,” he said. He added that Pandey had intervened on behalf of the brothel-keeper and persuaded Shaikh to release the girls back to the brothel.