A 28-year-old French woman has accused LGBTQIA+ activist and mental health advocate Divya Dureja of abducting, drugging and sexually assaulting her in a hotel in Goa on the pretext of performing a “shamanic ritual”, Mid-day reported on Wednesday.
Dureja, who was arrested on February 24, was released on bail last week and admitted to a psychiatric facility in Delhi. The police have said she will be unable to “recall anything for the next two to three weeks”, and that she was not “mentally stable” to speak very much.
The alleged incident took place on February 23. The complainant, a yoga instructor, arrived in Goa in January. She said that Dureja connected with her on Instagram, after which the two decided to meet at the Sea View Resort at Ashvem.
At the resort, Dureja allegedly took the woman to her room, saying she wanted to fix her hair. That is when she allegedly drugged and locked up the yoga instructor, according to the complaint.
The activist allegedly kept the woman in the room for nearly five hours. “She molested me and inserted her hand in my vagina, insinuating she was planting a tree,” the complainant said, adding that Dureja also bit her.
During their entire time together, the activist called herself as “the Lord Man” and referred to the woman as “the Queen of the Jungle”, and kept apologising “for her past mistakes that led us, in our past lives, to be separated”, according to the complaint.
The woman alleged that Dureja’s “voice [kept] changing, it felt like there were five or six different people in the room”, according to Mid-day.
At the end of five hours, Dureja finally screamed, “the spirit allows me to let you go”, and let the woman leave the room. The woman filed a complaint at Pernem police station soon after escaping.
North Goa Superintendent of Police Utkrisht Prasoon told The Indian Express that Dureja was arrested on February 24 based on the complaint. He said the woman’s statement will be recorded before a magistrate under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Dureja was booked under Sections 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code.
Sub Inspector Reecha Maheshwar Bhonsle, the investigating officer in the case, told Mid-day that the case was a “rare one” in terms of legal ambiguity. This is because “‘a man’ needs to be involved in such a case,” Bhonsle said. “The section [IPC 354] that we have used says ‘anyone’ instead of ‘a man’. It says ‘anyone’ or ‘whoever’.”
Bhonsle added that “prime facie something has happened”. But when the police asked the manager and the hotel staff, they said they did not hear any noise or screams from the room, the officer said.
“The complainant’s medical report shows that she has injuries on her back,” Bhonsle added. “The doctors say these are fresh injuries…and seem to be from the same incident. The rest like blood samples, etc, are being sent to the laboratory now.”
The police officer added that Dureja had denied all allegations, and said that she and the complainant were “just chit-chatting” in the hotel room that day.
Meanwhile, the activist’s mother last week travelled to Goa from Delhi to meet her, but Dureja did not recognise her, the mother told Mid-day. “She [Dureja] wasn’t letting anyone near her,” she added. “She kept asking ‘can I trust you’. A psychiatrist said this is an acute PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] sort of thing or she might have been drugged.”