Smitha* remembers the night of March 4 vividly. Not only was she attacked by an unknown man in the room of a paying guest accommodation (PG) she was staying at, but she was made to narrate the incident as many as five times and to three different police officers.
A working professional in her 20s, Smitha was staying at a PG accommodation near Kundalahalli in Bengaluru. This woman had moved to Bengaluru only recently.
On March 4, Smitha had fallen asleep while on the phone. She woke up around 1:30 am to find a man standing before her, holding a knife.
The man has now been identified as Shivarama Reddy, a habitual offender and a man accused of rape before.
Reddy threatened her for money and demanded that she have sex with him. He even told her that he had come with five others, who were in the adjacent room in the PG, raping Smitha’s roommate.
“He threatened me to give all my money. He showed me the knife and demanded that I have sexual intercourse with him,” Smitha told TNM.
A terrified Smitha asked him who he was. “He told me that he was with five other people, who were raping the woman in the other room. I was scared and did not know what to do. He then asked me about my personal details, I gave him all false details. He snatched my blanket, attacked me, tried to touch me and I got a cut on my hand as he used the knife,” she said.
Smitha somehow managed to escape and locked herself in the bathroom. After some time, her roommate come into her room and unlocked her from the bathroom, which had by then been latched from outside too, presumably by Shivarama.
He had also allegedly threatened Smitha’s roommate in a similar way but she too managed to escape. Smitha’s phone was missing by the time Shivarama escaped.
The girls then locked all the doors and called the PG owner. He arrived around 3am when Smitha was packing her bags and getting ready to go to her friend’s place. Instead of assuring the girls, the owner dissuaded Smitha from leaving the PG or file a complaint. He added that this was a ‘normal occurrence’ in other PGs.
Smitha alleges police harassed her, police deny
Traumatised but determined to file a police complaint about the incident, Smitha and her roommate went to HAL police station in the afternoon of March 5.
Smitha tells TNM that she narrated the entire incident to a sub-inspector who was there at the time. It was the first of the many retellings she would be subjected to.
The sub-inspector told her to write the entire incident in her writing, which she did. After this, he told her Inspector Sadiq Pasha was busy, and she should speak to his PA. She was made to narrate the entire incident to Sadiq’s PA.
After this, she met Sadiq Pasha in his car.
“Sadiq Pasha asked who the man was. Then he took out a photograph and showed me the attacker’s photo. I was taken aback. He confidently showed me only one photograph, not two or three of them. I identified him instantly. I was then informed that it was a two-year-old photograph and that this guy is a ‘psycho’ and a repeat offender,” Smitha says.
Smitha says that later Pasha asked her to meet him at a café.
And then, to her surprise, Sadiq told Smitha not to file an FIR. “He said it would be bad for my image and that they’d make the PG owner file an FIR. He even told me not to talk about this incident to anyone, including my family members. He also said that I can file a complaint if I wanted to be famous,” Smitha alleged.
“I felt very strange. It was traumatizing because I had been made to repeat my story several times and no one was helping me. They kept making me go in circles,” she adds.
After this, around 8pm on March 5, Sadiq told Smitha to go back and send two of her friends to the police station to get a copy of the FIR filed by the PG owner. Smitha’s friends returned with two tickets to the India-Australia test match.
“I think he gave that as a token for not filing an FIR. We returned it,” Smitha told TNM.
But this wasn’t it. Sadiq told Smitha to meet him again at 10:30pm at a Dunkin Donuts outlet in the area and to give him a letter saying she does not want to get involved in the case. But Smitha decided against it. When informed about her decision, he changed his stance and told her that the letter was to claim compensation for her phone.
Smitha and two of her friends then met Sadiq with the letter. She also decided to complain about Pasha to his seniors.
A case was filed based on the PG owner’s complaint only for extortion against an unknown person. This despite the police knowing the identity of the accused, according to Smitha. Sexual assault was, however, missing in the first FIR.
A second FIR was filed on March 6 and sections of assualt were added. But the FIR was still against an unknown person.
Adding more intrigue to the case, Shivarama was shot at by the police on Tuesday (March 7) in a shootout at Outer Ring Road. He was arrested and is at a hospital now and out of danger. According to the police, Shivarama attacked Pasha and a team of police. One of the policemen shot Shivarama on the leg.
According to a report in The Hindu, Shivarama has over 10 cases against him, including that of rape, robbery and extortion. He was arrested in relation to an August 2014 rape case that took place in Electronic City. He was booked under the Goonda Act, and has been out on bail since December 2016.
Incidentally, the shootout was on Tuesday - the same day that Smitha had gone to the HAL police station again to file an FIR.
“I wanted the FIR in my name, not the PG owner’s. But they told me to write down the incident again and that while they couldn’t file another FIR, they would attach it to the existing FIR which was in the PG owner’s name. They added two other sections, but that’s it,” Smitha says.
Following this, Smitha handed over a complaint about the incident, and the treatment she was subjected to by the HAL police to the Commissioner of Police on Tuesday.
However, both Sadiq Pasha and Additional Commissioner of Bengaluru police (East) Hemant Nimbalkar denied the allegations. Both maintained that the victim had initially given only a complaint of extortion.
“It was a scary and traumatising incident. But I will persist the case,” Smitha said with determination.
* Name changed