For six long years, 53-year-old Gauri*, a US citizen of Indian origin and a resident of Bengaluru was sexually harassed by multiple men including the management and the security guards of her posh Bengaluru apartment.
Unable to bear the harassment any further, Gauri approached the Deputy Commissioner of Police Kala Krishnaswamy, after which the Kodigehalli Police registered a case of sexual harassment and criminal intimidation against five persons on January 12.
Gauri alleges that her outspokenness regarding the building owner’s apathy towards her complaints against the management had almost resulted in her being evicted.
Where it all began
In 2013, Gauri had moved into the Beary’s Lakeside Habitat, an apartment complex in Kodigehalli area. Gauri soon became involved in helping out with a small montessori school located next to the apartment complex.
“Their space was small and since we had so much space inside the complex, I wanted to request the management to allow us to have interactive sessions with the children in a small space inside our complex,” Gauri says.
When she made inquiries about the person authorised to make such decisions, she was directed to the building’s real estate manager, Irfan Waheed. She was given his email address and asked to contact him.
After writing multiple emails, Gauri did not receive any response from Waheed. “I then approached him outside the apartment building near the reception area and he was extremely rude. I told him that he could have at least informed me that such a set up would not be possible, he became extremely rude. He then looked at me from top to bottom and he began leering at me. I told him I would inform the police of his behaviour. He, in turn, picked up the phone and said, ‘call the police. No one will be able to help you’,” Gauri alleges.
Soon after Waheed allegedly began staring at Gauri and making her extremely uncomfortable whenever she passed by. In order to ensure that such instances do not occur, Gauri contacted the resident manager Prabhakar Balla and asked him to advise Waheed about his behaviour.
“They called for a meeting to resolve the issue. Since I am a chronic heart patient, I thought it would be best if the matter was settled quickly. During the meeting, Prabhakar Balla was extremely rude to me, while he enabled Waheed. Finally, Waheed was made to offer an apology. I thought it was over but it was not. That was just the beginning,” Gauri recalls.
Soon, Gauri allegedly became a target for Waheed and the resident manager Prabhakar Balla. Gauri alleges that Waheed continued to sexually harass her and make her uncomfortable every time she passed by him.
“Once he also told me to wear a burkha in a very derogatory manner while looking at me. Initially, I was taken aback and I thought maybe he did not say it to me. But we were outside and I was passing by him. He would give me lecherous looks all the time and that was not even half of it,” she alleges.
Unable to withstand the harassment, Gauri then wrote to the building owners Syed Beary and Siddique Beary, asking for help. However, this was not fruitful either, she says.
“Waheed is the right-hand man of the Bearys and they too tried to sabotage my image. In 2015, a new building manager named Albert was appointed. He too was extremely sexist. He would harass the women and had even called two women sluts while commenting on the clothes they wear. When I brought this up too, the Bearys did nothing,” Gauri alleges.
For six years, Gauri diligently wrote emails to the building management, to Waheed, to Albert and the Bearys, voicing her discomfort and the blatant sexism and misogyny of the building managers. All of it fell on deaf ears, she says.
“Soon the security guards also began leering at me and sexually harassing me. It was unbearable,” she says “The unofficial resident welfare association, which is not a registered body is headed by Prabhakar Balla. They apparently held an inquiry and gave Waheed and Albert a clean chit. They also filed an affidavit in which they have assassinated my character. The owner of the flat I live in received the letter and also a call from the Bearys. They forced him to evict us,” Gauri adds.
In December 2018, Gauri’s husband received a call from the flat owner Aadarsh, who demanded that they leave the apartment as soon as possible. “My husband explained the situation to him and the work I do as a social worker. Finally, Aadarsh let us stay. That’s when I decided to pursue this legally, even though my health does not permit me to do so. I take a few steps and I feel tired. During the whole process when I had arguments with Waheed about his behaviour, I was hospitalised due to the stress and my heart condition,” Gauri alleges.
On January 12 this year, on the directions of DCP Kala Krishnamurthy, the Kodigehalli Police registered an FIR against Waheed, Albert, Subbe Gowda, Kahaiya and Dogra the security personnel under IPC sections 354 (sexual harassment), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention).
*Name changed to protect identity