Breaking her silence for the first time, the 29-year-old model who has accused Mumbai Police personnel of rape and extortion has told The Indian Express about her alleged ordeal at the police station and how it almost pushed her to suicide.
“I wanted to cry, I wanted to shout,” she says, recalling the autorickshaw ride from Sakinaka police station to her rented apartment in Oshiwara on April 3. Once she reached home and the doors opened, her 17-year-old brother asked her in between hugs if she was alright. “That is when I questioned myself. What would happen to my family? My father who has a heart condition, my mother, my brother?” she says.
The woman, who once aspired to be an actor, adds, “I wanted to be a star. Now, things have changed. I quit. I will go back to my consultancy profession.” The Chandigarh native has an MBA degree in hospitality and tourism and has worked in Australia and Singapore.
She arrived in Mumbai in August 2014 and had been rejecting “small-time modelling offers” because she wanted the “right role”.
She alleges that on the intervening night of April 2 and 3, she went to the lobby of Holiday Inn, expecting to sign a role in a movie financed by a Gujarat-based businessman. Her modelling coordinator had asked her to collect a signing amount and leave. But the businessman allegedly asked her to follow him to his room. She declined and called a male friend to pick her up. Later, she claims, when the two reached the hotel’s parking lot, six persons, who identified themselves as police officials, surrounded them and told them it was a “raid”.
“They started accusing us of prostitution,” she recalls. The two were then taken to Sakinaka police station. “I pleaded repeatedly. They threatened me, API Sunil Khatpe was the most violent. Twice he warned me by raising his hand and signalling that he would slap me.
Another policeman, after looking at an identity card from my days in Australia, said, ‘Tere paas toh bahut paisa hoga (you would have a lot of money)’,” she alleges. “API Suresh Suryavanshi was checking my pictures and Facebook page on my iPhone. Khatpe kept asking for money, claiming I went to the hotel to solicit a customer for Rs 2 lakh. I tried to reason with them by saying that if I was into prostitution, I would have accompanied the businessman to his room, which I did not,” she says.
She says that at 3 am, she was taken to the Sangharsh Nagar beat chowky. “Khatpe was driving… At the beat chowky, two other policemen opened the door. I was taken inside,” she claims. She alleges that after two hours, around 5 am, Khatpe signalled everyone to leave and bolted the room from inside.
“He left his chair, came across the table and stood near the chair where I was sitting. I asked him why the others were asked to leave. He gagged me, threw me on the table and forced himself on me. Mujhe happy kar de (Make me happy), he kept on repeating as he sexually abused me,” she alleges. “I was crying. I tried pushing him away but he was too strong. He later zipped himself up and opened the door.”
She claims she was then taken to a tiny room. “A woman took away my jewellery, cash, everything. She didn’t even leave my make-up kit.”
She further alleges that at 7 am, she was again left alone in the room. “Again Khatpe came and forced himself on me. I begged him to go but he did not relent. I was groped and abused for the second time within two hours” she claims.
“Around 9 am, Khatpe told a constable that a senior officer was scheduled to visit the chowky and he should take me to Sakinaka police station. He told me he was leaving Rs 1,500 in my purse as I would need that. At the police station, I was fined Rs 1,200 for creating nuisance in a public place,” she claims. She adds that her friend had pay Rs 4.35 lakh before they were allowed to leave.
She says when she told her friend about the alleged rape later that day, they went to Cooper Hospital for a check-up. “When I told a male doctor I am a model and was sexually abused by a policeman, he signalled to his colleague that my complaint didn’t seem authentic,” she alleges.
“The society has a very biased view about models… I am an MBA graduate. My father was a government employee. My sisters are teachers. For me, my dignity is paramount,” she adds.
The victim also alleges Khatpe continued to call her for a few days. “He threatened me, saying he has my address and can come home any time,” she claims, adding that he even wished her on Good Friday.
She says she thought of lodging a complaint immediately, but the thought of walking into a police station again “sent shivers” down her spine. She managed to get through to Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria on April 21 and lodged a complaint the next day. Eight people — three policemen and five informers — have been arrested so far. “When I narrated my ordeal, he was shocked and kept apologising,” she says. “After the Delhi gangrape, friends in the Capital said I should feel safe as I live in Mumbai. I beg to differ today. In Delhi, civilians rape women… In Mumbai, it’s the police,” she says.