Maharashtra NCP leader Dhobale booked for rape
Mumbai: In an embarrassment for ruling NCP ahead of next month’s Assembly polls in Maharashtra, senior party leader and former minister Laxmanrao Dhobale has been booked on rape and criminal intimidation charges.
An FIR against Dhobale, who is an MLA from Solapur district, was filed after a 42-year-old woman staffer of a city-based college accused him of sexually abusing her for nearly two years, police said today.
The NCP leader rejected the charges, dubbing them as “politically motivated” and an attempt at “character assassination”.
Dhobale has been booked under IPC Sections 376 (rape), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation) by Borivali police, said Deputy Commissioner of Police Balsingh Rajput.
The victim, who works as a clerk in a law college, with which Dhobale has been closely associated, approached the police yesterday with her complaint, he said.
“The victim underwent a medical examination yesterday and we have sought time from a Magistrate to record her statement under 164 CrPC,” the DCP said.
As per Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a statement recorded before a Metropolitan Magistrate/ Judicial Magistrate is admissible in court during the trial.
According to police sources, the former Maharashtra Water Supply Minister, who is reportedly a trustee of the college, allegedly exploited the woman sexually between January 2011 and January 2013.
The NCP leader had allegedly warned her of dire consequences if she divulged anything about the exploitation. He also allegedly assaulted and threatened to reveal her objectionable pictures, they said, quoting the victim’s complaint.
The woman claimed that all these months she was scared to tell the police about her ordeal since her alleged tormentor was a powerful politician, said another officer.
However, she finally mustered courage and lodged a complaint following which an FIR was registered, police said.
The college was in news recently after it was accused of cheating over 50 students, who had registered for seats online and paid fees but were denied admission.
When contacted, Dhobale questioned the timing of the complaint. “The allegations and FIR came immediately after the model code of conduct (for Assembly polls) kicked in. This is nothing but character assassination. The charges are politically motivated.”
The NCP leader said he was ready to be hanged in public if the charges against him were proved.