On Monday, September 19, the Pune Police arrested a food delivery man named Raees Shaikh on charges of molesting a 19-year-old girl in the Yewalewadi area of the city. 40-year-old Shaikh is believed to be working with Zomato, a known food delivery company. However, Zomato has denied this.
As per reports, the shocking incident occurred on Saturday, September 17, at around 9 PM. The teenage victim, an engineering student who stays in the rented apartment, ordered dinner from Zomato. Shaikh arrived at her residence to deliver her order and requested a glass of water. When she brought water, he started asking her about her family members. To which the girl replied that she lives in the flat with her two friends, who had gone to their respective homes at that time. Then, he asked for another glass of water from the girl.
When the girl turned around to get another glass of water, Shaikh grabbed her hand and forcibly kissed her twice on the cheek. Before leaving, the delivery man said that ‘he is like her uncle’ and that if she needs any kind of help, she can ‘feel free to speak to him’. After that, he sent her three WhatsApp messages, which were later deleted by him.
The shaken girl contacted her landlord after the incident, who contacted the Police. The girl was initially hesitant to lodge a complaint but after Shaikh started messaging her on WhatsApp, she visited the Kondhwa police station and filed a formal complaint.
According to the written complaint, Raees Shaikh had arrived on the 5th floor of the residential building to deliver the parcel carrying dinner ordered by the victim.
“He asked for water. After drinking the water, he caught hold of the girl’s hands forcibly and touched her inappropriately. He then tried to flee from the spot, but the girl raised the alarm. The residents of the building caught the suspect and handed him over to police”, stated Sub-inspector Sachin Khetmalis.
But it seems that even though Shaikh was caught by residents and handed over to police, he was not arrested at that time. It was only when the girl later (after receiving his harassing WhatsApp messages) came to the police station to lodge a complaint that Shaikh was arrested under IPC sections 354 and 354A. But he was released on bail soon after! Police said that ‘further investigation is still on’ and a charge-sheet will be filed on ‘completion of investigation’. .
Apart from the usual ‘secular’ media censorship and questionable police response, what is shocking is that such an incident happened in a residential society in a major city like Pune. In cities like Pune, Bengaluru, or Hyderabad, young girls and single women often stay alone for study or work. Men like Raees Shaikh working with popular food delivery apps and having access to the homes of vulnerable women raises a concern about the vetting mechanism and training imparted by these companies.