The Tamil Nadu Police on Sunday arrested a flight lieutenant of the Indian Air Force on charges of raping a fellow officer in Coimbatore city, The Times of India reported.
The accused person was identified as 29-year-old Amitesh Harmukh, who hails from Chhattisgarh’s Durg district. He was in Coimbatore to take part in an induction programme at the Air Force Administrative College in Redfields area.
The complainant, also 29 years old, said she informed senior officers about the assault, but no action was taken.
Coimbatore Police Commissioner Deepak Damor said they received her complaint a few days ago and registered a first information report. Damor added that Harmukh has been sent to judicial custody for two days, according to NDTV.
The police have booked Harmukh under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Indian Penal Code. He is reportedly lodged in the Udumalaipet sub-jail in Tiruppur district.
Meanwhile, Harmukh’s lawyer has submitted in an affidavit before a magistrate that the police cannot arrest an Air Force officer. The police have asked for time to file their response.
What happened according to the FIR
According to the FIR, which was accessed by The News Minute, the complainant was given a painkiller the day the alleged crime occurred, because of a leg injury she had suffered. Later in the day, she had two drinks at the Officers’ Mess bar, one of which the accused had insisted on paying for.
The woman then felt unwell and was taken to her room by two peers, but Harmukh tried to enter her room and wake her up more than once, The News Minute reported. The next morning, the woman was woken up by one of the friends whom she was with the night before, who asked why Harmukh had been in the same room as her. She and the friend then “realised she had been sexually assaulted”.
The News Minute report detailed multiple hurdles in filing an assault complaint against Harmukh, including seniors attempting to talk the woman out of registering a complaint multiple times. Besides this, medical examiners at the Air Force Hospital allegedly asked to see a purported “confession” video of Harmukh’s before conducting the woman’s physical examination.
The doctor who conducted the examination also performed the now-banned two-finger test on the woman. The test was banned by the Supreme Court in 2013. Critics have pointed out that the test is unscientific and prejudicial towards a sexual assault complainant, since it is used to test the laxity of vaginal muscles and could be used to judge sexual history etc.
There was also an alleged delay in handing over physical evidence, The News Minute reported the FIR as saying. The woman’s swabs were not sent to authorities until she after filed her complaint on September 20. The alleged assault occurred on September 9.
The room where the alleged assault took place was also not sealed.
Later, the printed statements of the woman and her friend were allegedly different from their verbal statements.
The complainant also stated that it was difficult for her to see Harmukh in the same campus as her, but was allegedly informed by a senior that if she could bear the pain of an ankle injury, she could manage seeing him in her class too.
The story has been updated to include information from the FIR.