A 26-year-old autorickshaw driver was arrested late Monday for allegedly sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman in Panvel.
The police said the woman, who hailed from Chhattisgarh, escaped from her house mid-December and travelled to Delhi. After spending some days there, she came to Mumbai on December 22 to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s eve.
However, after she alighted from the train at Bandra railway station, a ticket checker spotted her alone and assuming that she was a minor, handed her over to Childline care. Following preliminary inquiry, the Childline officials realised that she was 18 and let her go.
Following this, the teenager came to Panvel railway station on Saturday. “She befriended a man and spent a day with him,” an officer said.
Around 9 pm on Sunday, she hailed an autorickshaw and asked the driver to take her to Gandhi Garden.
“On noticing that she was alone, the driver, instead of taking her to Gandhi Garden, took her to a secluded area,” the officer added.
The accused then threatened to harm her with a stone and allegedly sexually assaulted her. Following this, the woman somehow managed to escape.
On being spotted by local residents, she was taken to the Panvel police station. Her statement was recorded and she was sent for medical examination, which confirmed rape.
The police have registered a case under sections 376 (rape) and 506 (2) (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. The CCTV camera footage of the area where the incident took place led the police to speak to other autorickshaw drivers at the station. “Through informants, we got a tip-off on the suspect, who we were told is from Barwai village,” said Assistant Inspector Amol Shinde.
Eventually, a trap was laid at the station and the accused, Sachin Sharma, was brought to the police station for questioning. He was arrested late on Monday after he confessed to the crime, said police. He was produced in court, which sent him to police custody.
The teenager is staying at an ashram, the police said.