Mumbai: Man held for groping girl near Mahim dargah

Mumbai: Mahim Police have arrested a youth for inappropriately touching a nine-year-old girl outside Mahim Dargah on Sunday afternoon. The youth reportedly groped the child and asked her to touch his private parts while watching a pornographic video, police said. The accused has been arrested and booked under relevant sections of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.

According to police sources, the girl was with her mother, who was visiting the Mahim dargah to beg, as they frequently did, in the first fortnight of the month, which helped them pay the rent for their Bhiwandi house. However, on Sunday, there was a huge crowd outside the shrine and she went towards Cadell Road in Mahim by herself.

Since the child was familiar with the area, her mother let her go alone. Much to her surprise, an hour later, the girl came back crying, with a woman following her. When the mother enquired, the woman informed her that a man had been inappropriately touching the child on the footpath opposite Mahim Dargah.

Police said the accused, identified as Munna Choudhari, 20, was a worker at a brick factory, and had grabbed the minor, who was playing. Choudhari then made her watch a pornographic video and touched her inappropriately, unzipping his pants and making the girl touch his private parts. The incident was noticed by an onlooker, who immediately intercepted the man and rescued the minor. After the girl’s mother was informed, the man was taken to the police station.

A case should have been registered against Choudhari, but the police tried to downplay the matter by delaying the process, alleged the complainant. “We were asked to wait for six hours before a First Information Report (FIR) was registered, as the owner of the brick factory was on good terms with the police. After the factory owner intervened in the matter, police tried to persuade us not to report it. However, we were adamant and registered a case against Choudhari,” the mother said.

Refuting allegations of a delay in registering an FIR, Kailas Chavan, senior inspector of Mahim police station said the accused was arrested on Sunday and booked under relevant sections of the POCSO Act. He was produced in court on Monday and was remanded in police custody for three days.

A local social activist, Faisal Malik, said, “The men working at the brick factory do not even have proper identity proofs and we suspect they are the ones who commit crimes like bag snatching and chain-snatching. We have approached local authorities in the past to do a background check on the employees, but to no avail.”

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