Goa MLA, booked for rape, surrenders; minor says was sold for Rs 50 lakh
Panaji (PTI): Expelled Congress legislator Atanasio alias Babush Monserrate, who has been accused of raping a minor girl, appeared before the Crime Branch here on Thursday, a day after the Goa police registered an FIR against him.
Monserratte was out of the state when the FIR was lodged against him with Women’s Police Station for allegedly raping the 16-year-old girl in March.
Summons were issued to Monserratte, a former education minister, asking him to remain present before Investigating Officer Sudiksha Naik.
The MLA, accompanied by his wife and few supporters, came to the Crime branch office at around 3.10 pm. Before stepping in to the office, he told reporters, “I have not done anything wrong. The complaint is totally false and bogus. This is just to frame me. Nothing more than that.”
According to a report, the minor alleged that Monserrate spiked her drink and then raped her at his bungalow. “The next morning I woke up without my clothes, covered in blood, he was sitting without his clothes on,” the teen said.
She reportedly told the police that she was sold to Monserrate by her step mother and another woman for Rs 50 lakh.
Responding to the same, Monserratte said, “I watch ‘Sawadhan India’ (TV programme), but I don’t know what they put in the drink. I have not spiked any drink.”
He said he is yet to get the copy of the complaint. “I have not got the copy of the complaint filed. She was working in Hallmark (his showroom). Her parents are voters from my constituency. One of my supporters introduced me to her parents and said she was loitering around. That is how I took her on the job,” he said.
“It is definitely something to do with politics. I am not hiding from anyone. I am here to surrender myself to police, let them interrogate me,” he further said.
Prior to this, the Goa police on Thursday conducted searches at various places, including the politician’s residence, in connection with the case. “The searches were held at various establishments in and around Panaji and an apartment owned by Monserratte,” an official said.
“The teams were dispatched at various locations as part of the investigation. We are trying to collect evidences, as per the statement given by the girl,” he said.
The situation in Taleigao village, where Monserratte has a bungalow, was tense. Huge police force was deployed outside his house as a team led by SP (Women Police Station) Kartik Kashyap conducted the searches.
The police, who had booked Monserratte under section 3,4 of POSCO Act, and relevant sections of the IPC and Goa Children’s Act, also registered an offence against him and the girl’s step-mother under relevant sections for human trafficking.
“The offence of human trafficking is also registered against Monserratte and stepmother of the girl at Women’s Police Station. The girl in her statement before Child Welfare Committee of state-run Apna Ghar (protective home) has claimed that Monserratte had purchased her from her stepmother,” a senior police official said on condition of anonymity.
Kashyap, however, refused to comment on developments in the case. Earlier, the Goa police recorded the girl’s statement. “A team of officials from Women’s police station visited the state-run protective home where the girl is currently lodged and recorded her statement,” the official had earlier said.
In her statement before Child Welfare Committee, she had alleged that Monserratte has raped her several times in the past.
The legislator, who represents St Cruz constituency, was expelled from Congress recently for anti-party activities. When contacted, his wife Jeniffer, who represents the Taleigao constituency, refused to comment on the case.
Meanwhile, the state Congress also refrained from commenting on the case, but advised media against character assassination. “The legislator should come out with his statement on this matter as the charges are serious. Until and unless things are proved one cannot do any character assassination. I also appeal to media not to indulge in this,” Congress state secretary Durgadas Kamat said.
“Let law take its own course. If he is guilty, I am sure he will abide by the law,” he said.
“With BJP ruling in the state and elections approaching, anything can happen in the state. It is better that the matter should be fast-tracked and things come out clear in public,” Kamat said.
“The medical examination has also been conducted on her at Goa Medical College and Hospital which is positive,” a senior official said.