Mumbai Local

Infosys should have reported rape earlier: Pune police

The Infosys campus at Phase One of Hinjewadi IT Park in Pune.— Photo: Jignesh Mistry  

While the rape of a 25-year-old female contract employee inside the sprawling Infosys campus here has shocked the IT world, a disturbing fact is the apparent reluctance of the IT major to accept responsibility for the incident.

The crime has brought the endemic problem of women’s safety in general, and on IT campuses in particular, into sharp focus. However, Pune police said the time lag between the incident and its reporting was “unacceptable.” “We cannot believe that the company authorities remained silent for more than 24 hours until the victim approached us. While the accused are part of the housekeeping staff, the company has proved unwilling to accept responsibility despite questioning. They said the accused are contractual staff hired from an external agency,” said Assistant Police Inspector Chandrakant Suryawanshi, who heads the probe.

Hours after the incident was widely reported in the media on Tuesday, the company swung into damage control mode through its PR agency, stating that the victim as well the accused were contract employees hired from an external agency.

The company issued a three-line statement to the effect that it had a “zero tolerance policy against sexual harassment which extended to their contractual staff as well” and said it was aiding the police in cracking the case. The police said the company authorities ought to have swung into action earlier as news of the crime had become common knowledge by Monday.

As narrated by the survivor to the police, the main accused, Paritosh Bagh (21), a canteen cleaner, barged into the women’s lavatory on the evening of December 27 and molested the victim. Even as she screamed for help, the second accused, Prakash Mahadik (30), whipped out his mobile phone and filmed the incident. It was late evening when the traumatised woman confided in a female security guard and the news spread.

According to Inspector S.P. Bhosale of the Hinjewadi police station, prompt police action helped nab the accused within minutes of the victim filing the complaint.

Mr. Suryawanshi said the police were investigating whether Infosys had conducted the requisite background checks before the duo were allowed to work on the campus.

According to police, Bagh is an employee of the Tamanna group of Hotels whose eatery caters to the Infosys canteen sited in Phase 1 of the Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park — as the IT hub is called. He alternately worked at the Infosys canteen as a cleaner and a waiter.

Mahadik resides in Hinjewadi with his wife and daughter, who were away when the incident took place. Bagh has been charged with rape under Section 376, while both he and Mahadik were charged under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

The accused were produced in court on Tuesday. They have been remanded in police custody till January 5.

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Printable version | Mar 1, 2021 2:51:44 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/infosys-should-have-reported-rape-earlier-pune-police/article8047805.ece

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