Sunday, May 17, 2009

Act against hotels renting rooms to child molesters

Day after his 13-year-old daughter was forcibly taken to a Madh hotel room, Deepak Tijori calls for action against rent-a room-and-look-the-other-way establishments

Actor-turned-filmmaker Deepak Tijori’s 13-year-old daughter - allegedly abducted from Lokhandwala and released four hours later on Sunday – was taken to a hotel in Madh Island and allegedly sexually harassed by the 19-year-old kidnapper, according to Oshiwara police.

Livid at the way shady hotels function, Tijori took his daughter back to Madh Island with a police team to identify the hotel on Sunday night itself. The traumatised father now wants immediate action against all such joints in Madh Island, where rooms are let out without even registering guests’ names, and perverts are allowed to ruin innocent girls’ lives.

Based on Tijori’s daughter’s description, the police have prepared a sketch of the suspect. Oshiwara police officers, who did not wish to be named, said the cellphone number of the boy has been traced. The call log details suggest that he had called up the girl before the alleged kidnap. “The suspect has switched off his cellphone, but we are hopeful of closing in on him soon,” said an officer.

‘Don’t ruin lives for Rs 800’

“Such things always happen to others. Unless it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels,” a shocked Tijori told Mumbai Mirror. “It’s amazing that a stranger could just pick up my child in broad daylight, while Lokhandwala buzzes with activity. Luckily, she was returned to us physically unharmed, never mind the mental trauma. But what about those vulnerable girls out there who never return or return traumatised for life? I just want to say one thing… Shut these shady hotels where such things are allowed. The thought of such hotels functioning in Mumbai is nauseating. Do your business, but please don’t trade the lives of 13-year-olds for a mere Rs 800 room rent.”

Tijori’s wife Shivani had taken their daughter and her friend out for lunch, and left them at a shopping centre at 4.45 pm because they wanted to window-shop. “The kidnapper threatened the friend and told her to keep quiet.

Even she is traumatised and guilt-ridden about not raising an alarm immediately,” Tijori said.

The friend later informed the Tijori family about the incident, after which they approached the Oshiwara police and lodged a kidnapping complaint.

“The kidnapper took away my daughter’s phone, slapped her and forced her to get into an autorickshaw. He then took her to the Madh Island hotel, and later walked out of the back entrance that can only be known to regular visitors. The same night, I took my daughter back to the hotel with the cops. The hotel people are now threatening us. But I don’t care. We need to protect our children from such hotels.”

‘Raid all shady joints’

Tijori thinks the authorities are not taking the situation as seriously as they should. “Why haven’t the hotel staff been grilled, when my daughter has identified the hotel and the hotelier has admitted that she was brought to the place? Instead, the cop was protecting the hotel manager. I’m proud of my child for being so brave.

“The hotel where that rascal took my poor little child must be full of these goings-on. The hotel people could see that she was just a child. How could they let in a man dragging a crying child into their premises? They still gave that pervert a room. He let my daughter go because she was crying and pleading. But does anyone know what my wife and I went through in those four hours until our daughter came home? Do they know what my child went through? The monster actually had the guts to drop her home and threaten her with dire consequences. He was basically a jerk who thought he’d do things with my daughter. But because she was howling, he dropped her home…

“All these shady hotels in Madh Island must be raided. My blood boils to think how much perversion must be going on there. My wife and I were unable to sleep even after our child came home. What if he had harmed her physically? What about other innocent girls who are taken to these hotels? Rooms are let out without question and without even registering the names of guests. The man at the counter took extra money from my daughter’s kidnapper and gave him a room without registering his name. I’m grateful to God for sparing my daughter,” Tijori said.

Cops close in on suspect

On Monday afternoon, the Oshiwara police visited Tijori’s house and recorded his daughter’s statement, in which she alleged sexual harassment. She underwent a medical examination on the directions of the police.

“The boy had taken her to a hotel in Madh Island. However, after he saw the news of the kidnapping on TV, he got scared and dropped the girl home. We have recorded the statement of the girl, her friend and the hotel manager. We are circulating the suspect’s sketch to all police stations and hope to catch him soon,” said an officer at the Oshiwara police station.

According to the police, the suspect is a friend of the girl’s classmate.

But Tijori’s sister-in-law Kunika Lall, who on Sunday visited the Oshiwara police station, denied that the family or the girl knew the kidnapper. - from Mumbai Mirror Bureau

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