Currently Santosh Kumar Shah is out of job, and in order to survive, he eats at religious places and stays at railway stations. Pic/Hanif Patel

Jailed for crime he didn't commit, Virar man on way to getting justice

By Samiullah Khan | Mumbai

Updated: Nov 08, 2018, 20:56 IST

After being harassed for 5 years by a flat's owner, a builder and cop, and serving a sentence for the crime he had not committed, victim manages to get FIR registered

After facing harassment for almost five years and spending 20 months in jail for the crime that he had never committed, a 48-year-old film distributor can finally see some ray of hope with the Virar police registering an FIR on the instructions of the Palghar SP against four accused involved in an apartment fraud case. Even though three SPs of Palghar district got transferred in the last five years, no one bothered to register a case against the owner of an apartment in Virar, a builder and a cop, who allegedly harassed the victim. However, almost 18 months after the police quashed the charges against victim Santosh Kumar Shah, an FIR was registered against four people on November 5.

No amenities available
According to Shah, he earlier lived in Andheri. Speaking to mid-day, he said, "In 2013 I was looking for a rented apartment in Virar. A man by the name Karimullah helped me get a 1BHK one at Neeraj Building in Virar East. I got it at a monthly rent of Rs 2,700 and security deposit of Rs 15,000." He paid an advance of Rs 5,000 and gave a post-dated cheque of Rs 10,000. Though the owner, Ravikant Patel, had promised to provide all amenities at the flat, when Shah moved in, he realised that there was no power and water. When he asked him to return his money, Patel did not pay any heed to it. In due course of time, he found out that the owner had earlier cheated other people in the same way. Thereafter, he filed a complaint with the Virar police, following which the accused were served a notice under CrPC section 149.

Shah further said Patil verbally abused him and even threatened him to withdraw the complaint. He even reached his house along with a woman and builder Bhushan Patil, and asked him to vacate the premises. Realising that the situation was going out of hand, Shah called up the police control room and informed them about the matter. Later, when he visited the Virar police station, Ravikant and Bhushan were already present there. They along with Sub-Inspector Asif Baig slapped and abused him. Though Shah informed Additional Superintendent of Police Deepak Devraj about the incident, no action was taken. The victim said that a couple of days later someone even tried to break into his house. Though he reported the matter to Superintendent of Police Anil Kumbhare, the case got transferred to Police Inspector D F Patil.

Physical assault
Shah further alleged that in June 2014, the accused along with a couple of other people assaulted him at his house, following which he became unconscious. Later, when he approached the Virar cops, instead of sending him to a hospital for treatment, they made him sit at the police station. The next morning he decided to approach Superintendent of Police Rajesh Pradhan regarding the matter, but before he could meet him, he fainted. The SP then asked his team to take him to the nearest hospital. After undergoing treatment when he went to the Virar police station again, the cops arrested him on molestation charges. For this, the court had sentenced him to 20 months of imprisonment. After he was acquitted due to insufficient evidence, the police released him on January 13, 2016 and quashed all the charges against him in June 2017.

He said that after his release when he went to the apartment to collect his belongings, he found someone else staying at the premises and all his stuff missing. Even his car had been stolen from the parking area. Currently, he is out of job and his financial condition is extremely weak. In order to survive he eats at religious places and sleeps at railway stations. According to Shah, action was initiated only after the new Superintendent of Police Gaurav Singh asked the Virar cops to file an FIR. Finally, on November 5, the cops recorded his statement and registered the case. "I am happy that the SP took the matter seriously. But the cop who is involved in the case should have been named in the FIR. Due to him I have lost all my life's savings and valuable documents as well." When contacted, SP Singh said, "We have registered a case against four people under sections 394, 329, 504 and 506 of IPC. During their interrogation, if we find the involvement of any police officer, then accordingly action will be taken against him."

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