Sunday, 17 August 2014

Travel co staffer gets bail in sexual assault case

MUMBAI: A case of sexual assault, harassment, criminal intimidation, threat to life, criminal conspiracy and cheating lodged by a woman tour manager with Marine Drive Police against nine persons two years after the alleged offences took place in Switzerland, landed a travel company director in a lock-up for two days recently.

Aditya Shah, a 30-year-old Baroda resident working in Switzerland found himself being taken aside by the police the moment he arrived at T2 from London on August 7. "There is a FIR filed against you in April at the Marine Drive Police station, you have to come with us,'' he was told by cops. His lawyer Rajesh Vanzara however argued during his bail plea before the Esplanade court that the FIR leveled baseless allegations and was filed as ''revenge action'' against her co-workers by the woman who herself is an accused in a theft case filed in Switzerland in 2012. He said, she has been accused of stealing 1000 CHF from Hotel guests and the papers have been sent to the Embassy to be sent to Indian police for her questioning as she had left Switzerland in 2012 and was then blacklisted. Vanzara showed the court a copy of the Swiss complaint and said the case against her was that she had taken money collected for excursion to Mt Titlis and disappeared. Her FIR names the 80-year-old Indian tourist couple who were signatories to the complaint against her there.

"Lots of sections are invoked,'' said the magistrate at Esplanade Court on seeing that the FIR contained 16 different sections of the Indian Penal Code. Advocate Anil Lulla who appeared for the woman sought to oppose the bail plea and said the FIR contained serious accusations by a woman. The prosecutor also said bail must not be granted. The magistrate after hearing the arguments deferred the matter while he perused all the documents closely. He then granted bail for a personal bond of Rs 15000 and directed Shah to appear every Monday before the Marine Drive Police Station.

The tour manager a 33-year-old Ghatkopar resident, however in her FIR said she was a freelance professional who first got an offer from one Bhavesh Shah over a coffee-meeting at Nariman Point in Mumbai in January 2012. He asked her to work as a tour manager for his company in Europe. She had refused, but when he requested again in May, she agreed as she had a tour group there till June 19. She alleged that contrary to the promises she was given a raw deal by Shah and was asked to share a single hotel room with another male tour manager. She was allotted another room only when she protested. She was asked by Shah, who she said portrayed himself as a hotel owner, to ''entertain'' an elderly hotel guest—now named as an accused—and other men. She said Shah had a master key to her room and when in despair and exhaustion she had fallen asleep, she woke up to find the guest stroking her face and his wife, also an accused, took away her passport, 1500 Euros and other documents, even as other accused watched and made obscene and offensive suggestions. She alleged that Aditya Shah later returned only her passport when she asked for it in front of his family. He however had threatened that he would throw acid on her face if she didn't do as told. ''I was shocked and upset,'' she said. "I said am a tour manager and would no other stuff.'' She alleged that he said, ''We wanted to trap you and that why we cancelled your return ticket...We know the European Mafia.''

She also alleged that when she went to the police in Switzerland to complain, the cops there told her that since the accused are also Indians, she should go back to India to file the complaint as else she would incur expenses in Switzerland. She alleged that she managed to leave by getting her relatives in London to get her a ticket in July-August 2012. But on her return, several other accused including one woman who said they were friends of Aditya Shah threatened her and her aged parents in Mumbai hence the delay in filing the FIR.

Few of the accused have got anticipatory bail orders till September 12. Police have not arrested anyone else so far.



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