Mumbai woman alleges molestation in BJP leader’s office on I-Day 2020

MUMBAI, Sept 23 : In an embarrassing development for the BJP, the Mumbai Police have registered an FIR against two of its activists for allegedly molesting a woman worker inside a party Municipal Corporator’s office when the nation was celebrating Independence Day last year, at the height of the pandemic lockdown.

The incident sparked off another bitter political fued between Maharashtra’s ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi and the opposition BJP, with the latter demanding to know why the issue was being raked up after one year by the victim.

According to the victim’s complaint, the incident took place on August 15, 2020 when one of the accused had invited her to the Vazira Naka office of BJP Municipal Corporator Anjali Khedekar.

The accused, said to be a local BJP ward leader, promised all help to enable her to join the party, called her to Khedekar’s office and then allegedly molested her inside the premises late that evening.

The victim said that after she reached the corporator’s office, the accused downed the shutters, switched off the lights, molested her and allegedly said she would “have to compromise if she wanted to work in the party”.

She said that she got up and walked out of the office and five days later complained verbally to the Borivali BJP MLA Sunil Rane, about the party activist’s indecent proposal.

When there was no response, she followed up with a written complaint to the Mumbai North two-time BJP MP Gopal Shetty, but claimed it remained ignored.

Finally, she approached the Borivali Police Station on Wednesday to register her complaint which was lodged invoking Indian Penal Code’s Section 354 (molestation) but no arrests have been made, Senior Police Inspector Sudhir Kalekar told media persons.

The incident quickly acquired a political colour with the Congress state spokesperson Sachin Sawant and Shiv Sena leaders condemning it strongly and accusing the BJP of pointing fingers at others when such incidents prove that women are not safe within their own party.

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar termed the incident as “very serious” and said that instead of looking at its own house, the BJP was busy attacking the MVA for atrocities in women.

This afternoon, she visited the Borivali Police Station to get an update on the investigations from the police, even as the BJP launched a counter-attack.

“Why did the victim wait for so long and not lodge a complaint earlier. After one year, this is being raised only to tarnish the party’s image. If anybody is guilty, then they should be punished, but innocents should not be harassed unnecessarily,” a visibly irked Gopal Shetty told the media this evening.

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