Friends and family of the 18-year-old woman who was reportedly raped and killed by the hostel watchman assert that the man has been harassing the woman on a regular basis and that the hostel administration ignored their complaints.
The girl was allegedly raped and strangled to death in her room on Monday night by Watchman Om Prakash Kanojia, 30, of a girl’s hostel in South Mumbai. A short time later, he committed himself by jumping in front of a moving train.
The girl’s hostel roommate also verified the event, and the police said they were looking into the family’s allegation that the watchman once forcibly entered the girl’s room at strange hours of the morning.
“She was sleeping in her room on the fourth floor when the accused went and started knocking on her door rigorously… It was 5am and she was too sleepy when she opened the door. Before she could understand anything, the watchman was inside her room,” a senior IPS officer said.
According to reports, the victim confided in her friend that Kanojia insisted on being let to remain in her room and watch her sleep. “The girl was shocked and asked him to leave. But he kept insisting… He left after the girl pushed him out of the room and yelled at him,” the officer said.
The companion informed the hotel personnel about the event when they were searching for the girl on Tuesday, according to the police. After finding the girl’s naked body in her chamber, they began seeking for Kanojia.
“My daughter had told me that she had discussed the harassment with her friend and they even went and complained to her warden but sadly no action was taken against him. Had taken some action, my daughter would have been alive,” said the 53-year-old father, demanding action against the warden and the superintendent of the hostel.
Varsha Andhare, the hostel’s director, responded to a news agency inquiry by denying the claim and said, “Nobody filed any complaints against him. I would have taken harsh measures against him if I had heard of any complaints.
Police discovered during their initial inquiry that the accused Kanojia frequently became “over friendly” with the hostel girls. According to an officer, “many girls avoided him as a result of this, but he would still try to strike up a conversation with them.”
Kanojia has reportedly been employed with the hostel since 2003. “The hostel authorities said that they had followed due procedure before recruiting him. His brother who was also working in the same hostel left for Pratapgarh in Uttar Pradesh recently to meet his family.”
When the girl’s family could not get in touch with her that fatal night, they initially sought to contact Kanojia. “Initially we reached out to Kanojia, as my father had met him before. As he was also not answering, he contacted her friend… then they started looking for her. Her dead body was found inside the room at around 4pm,” said her brother.
Before leaving the building, the accused shut the door to her room from outside.
An officer said, “When we started looking for him, we came to know that he ended his life… When we checked his clothes, we found the keys of her room in his pocket… he had locked her room before escaping.”
According to the Marine Drive police, who have charged Kanojia with rape and murder, they have begun recording the testimony of the deceased’s relatives, other hostel people, and staff members.
“We have so far recorded statements of around eight individuals. We will initially have to prove that the accused has committed the crime before killing himself after which we will conclude the investigation of the case and inform the court as the accused is no more,” said a senior police officer.