A Colombian woman tourist stranded without a place to live after running out of money amid the lockdown has now written to the Commissioner of Police alleging that a police officer assigned to assist her sought sexual favours in return. While her complaint says she did not know the officer’s name, she has written his phone number from which she received calls and WhatsApp messages.
The woman, having arrived in Mumbai on February 22, was living at an AirBnB accommodation in Bandra East until March 31. When she ran out of money to continue paying for her accommodation, she called the Colombian Embassy in New Delhi for help, she said.
Upon being contacted, the Mumbai Police reportedly assigned a police sub-inspector from Sahar police station to help her. Her complaint says this officer helped her check into a lodge in Marol on April 1.
“Thereafter he asked me if I wanted to drink beer or whiskey to which I refused. He kept sending flirting messages to me on WhatsApp and couple of times he came drunk and tried to force himself on me and I would scream. I pushed him out of the room and cried a lot. He kept saying that since he was paying for the hotel room and my food he was entitled to have a physical relation with me,” she said in her complaint. She has alleged that as she refused, he instructed the hotel not to provide her food, water or toiletries.
The complainant has also said that a video she posted on social media went viral, following which some municipal officers and a doctor visited her on April 18 and brought her food. On April 19, the policeman reportedly called her all day but she didn’t answer his calls. “Around 8 pm, I was notified that I have to leave the hotel, to which I refused because it was late at night and I was afraid,” her complaint said.
Coincidentally, the Harmony Foundation had just then set up a shelter in Mazgaon for stranded tourists including foreigners and had written emails to embassies and consulates enquiring about any travellers who need assistance during the extended lockdown period. “The Colombian embassy then responded to me with information about this woman who needed help in Mumbai,” said Dr Abraham Mathai of the Harmony Foundation. On contacting her, he was shocked when she broke down and requested to be moved to a different location. She was subsequently given shelter at Samraj Hotel in Chakala, where she will be able to avail food and lodging until the end of the lockdown.
DCP Pranay Ashok of the Mumbai Police confirmed that they had received the complaint. “All possible help was being extended to her after the Mumbai Police was contacted. It is true that this officer was assigned to her, but prima facie all interaction happened in the presence of other policemen. We are looking into the allegations and verifying facts. The Mumbai Police is committed that such complaints should not arise,” he told The Indian Express.
Mathai said, “I am grateful to Shirley Singh, director of Samraj hotel, for immediately accepting my request on hearing her plight. Further, Harmony Foundation has been informed by the Colombian embassy that 150 others from the country are stranded across India and we have assured that we will try and provide assistance required to anyone we are connected with,” he said.
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