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Accused of sexually molesting pilgrim at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan, Engineer denied pre-arrest bail

The Katra Police have registered an FIR against Sunit Mahajan, Assistant Executive Engineer at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan, on a written complaint of a pilgrim from Panchkula, Haryana.

JAMMU: A Court in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir has denied pre-arrest bail to an Engineer, at the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Bhawan, who is accused of sexually assaulting a pilgrim.

The Katra Police have registered an FIR against Sunit Mahajan, Assistant Executive Engineer at Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan, on a written complaint of a pilgrim from Panchkula, Haryana.

The complainant of Panchkula moved a written application before SDPO Katra alleging that she was sexually violated by Engineer Sunit Gupta on the night of September 20, 2021. The complainant had come by train for the pilgrimage of Mata Vaishno Devi.

Apparently known to each other, the Engineer advised the complainant to come straightway to Bhawan instead of staying in the Katra town. Upon reaching Bhawan, the accused made the complainant comfortable, offered her water and tea and later took her for the pilgrimage of the shrine.

Suggesting the pilgrim from Panchkula to stay in his room at the Bhawan, the Engineer had given an impression that he would go down to Katra for the night stay. At around 8:30 pm when the pilgrim wanted to go out for dinner, the Engineer asked her to stay on in the room as he would get the dinner served there. After the food was served he took several pictures of the complainant in his mobile.

By around 9:30 pm, the Engineer started making suggestions of staying on in the same room as the Panchkula woman. He asked her to sleep in his bed and he would himself sleep on the floor. The complainant woman declined to share the room with the accused who by around 12 am allotted her another room.

While the complainant shifted to the adjoining room, the accused also followed her and sat in her room for half an hour. Before leaving the room, the Engineer forcibly touched her, kissed her without her consent and hugged her. All these acts, without consent, constitute a sexual offence.

The next morning, the woman went to the office of Sub Divisional Police Officer and lodged a formal complaint against the Engineer. It is on this report, the FIR No. 09/2021 under section 354 was registered and investigation commenced.

Principal Sessions Judge Reasi RN Wattal while rejecting the bail application of Engineer Sunit Mahajan observed that the Mata Vaishno Devi is very sacred place for Hindus all over the world and daily thousands of pilgrims reach to Vaishno Devi on foot or by other means of transport to have Darshans of Pidies at the Bhavan. The accused being totally disrespectful to the place has outraged the modesty of a young pilgrim to fulfil his sexual lust and as such does not deserve the concession of bail at this stage in anticipation of his arrest. Any concession in favour of petitioner for bail shall be outrageous and faith that a common man has got in this prestigious institution particularly devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi shall be eroded.

The Judge after hearing Adv Rakesh Jeet Singh for the applicant observed that the petitioner is involved in the offences that are against the woman folk. In recent times, we have seen an increase in offences against women enormously. The women are afraid of going outside. Any concession of bail in favour of the petitioner shall not be taken any good taste by the society at large and womenfolk in particular. Any concession of bail shall positively boot those who believe in exploiting the women folk for their sexual lust and the provision for anticipatory bail is for those who apprehend arrest at the hands of police agencies on the basis of cases instituted only to harass them or to lower their estimation in the society. A person like that of the petitioner who tried to outrage the modesty of a pilgrim cannot take refuge under the provision of anticipatory bail when the allegations are prima facie established against him. With these observations, Court dismissed the pre-arrest bail application.


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