Late at night between November 24 and 25, a 22-year-old lady from Kerala who was in Bengaluru on business hired a bike taxi to take her from BTM Layout to Electronic City. Shahabuddin, the Rapido driver, drove the 22-year-old victim to his house, which was close to where she was staying. According to the authorities, Shahabuddin (26) and his companion Akhtar (24) gang-raped the victim inside their home. A female friend of the rapists guarded the house while the incident occurred.
Bengaluru South East Police have detained all three accused. Deputy Commissioner of Police South-East division Bengaluru, CK Baba, said that the unnamed lady accomplice tried to mislead and gave the police false information to protect Shahabuddin and Akhtar. The police are yet to provide the identity of the female accused.
The victim worked as a freelance graphic designer in a company in BTM Layout in Bengaluru. She booked a bike taxi on Thursday night to reach her house. Police said the lady was intoxicated when the bike taxi driver arrived on the spot. While traveling towards Neeladrinagar, she became almost unconscious.
Shahabuddin took it as an opportunity and promised to give her protection and shelter. For added effect, the accused invited one of the accused’s girlfriends to his home. The victim allegedly believed them and went inside their house. Later, the accused called his male friend, and both raped her while their girlfriend stood guard.
When the victim regained consciousness, they acted and pretended that she was in grave danger that night when she went unconscious, and they rescued her and gave her shelter, police said. The victim believed them and went home but could barely move the whole day. She developed severe body pain and went to the doctor. The doctor made a diagnosis and disclosed that she had been raped. They also informed the police.
She met the doctor on November 26. After discovering what had happened to her, the victim complained to the police. The police immediately registered an FIR and arrested the accused, including the girlfriend who helped. More details are yet to emerge in the case. Further investigation is on.
Bangaluru police said they are doing a background check of the accused persons to inspect if they were involved in similar offenses. Some reports said the accused threatened the victim not to disclose their misdeeds to anyone. Others alleged that Shahabuddin stopped his motorcycle at a shop while going to Electronic City and molested the victim.
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Pratap Reddy said that police had collected enough evidence from the spot with the aid of forensic lab experts. The police said Shahabuddin worked as a Rapido bike driver, while his friend Akhtar was employed at a mobile store. The commissioner added that one accused had a criminal past.
Earlier, Karnataka State Transport Department had banned auto aggregators, such as Ola, Uber, and Rapido, in Karnataka over charges of extorting money from customers. Unlike cabs, share autos and motorcycle drivers do not have the necessary police clearance certificates to operate such services. Some might have, but allegedly they hand over their vehicles to friends who might not even have driving licenses.
In October, the Karnataka High Court granted an interim stay to the order given by the Karnataka Transport Department. The court ordered the state officials not to take coercive action against the auto aggregators. Moreover, the Karnataka HC also allowed the auto/bike aggregators to charge 10 percent over the base fare as a convenience fee and 5 percent of GST. Yet, many drivers still fleece their passengers.
Such court orders do nothing to ensure the safety of passengers, primarily ladies, at night. In all practicality, such sharing vehicles are unsafe for young girls, especially when they are inebriated. This is not a justification for criminals, but ground realities cannot be denied, and women must be extra careful while traveling.
(With inputs from IANS)