A TDP corporator of the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC), accused of molesting a woman co-passenger while travelling from Delhi to Hyderabad in a flight, reportedly went off the hook with the blessings from an influential public representative from the ruling party.
According to information, the police attached to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGI) booked a case under the section 354 of the IPC, which deals with sexual assault, against Ummadi Venkateswara Rao alias Chanti representing 25th division in the city basing on a complaint from a woman of Hyderabad.
Circle Inspector Sudhakar posted at the RGI told TOI that he alerted his counterparts in Gannavaram about the case with a request to apprehend the accused upon his arrival from Hyderabad by a connecting flight. “By the time we filed a first information report after receiving the complaint from the victim, the accused already left for Gannavaram. Therefore, I immediately alerted the police at the Gannavaram airport”, Sudhakar said. Sources however said the accused was let off within an hour after his detention by the police as an offshoot of pressures from a ruling party MP. Chanti, won the municipal election from his ward as an independent candidate after denial of ticket by the TDP and got re-admitted in the party after the election.
According to reports, the TDP leader and the women passenger were travelling in seats side by side in the flight. When his behaviour with her crossed decency, she was said to have raised an alarm and complained to the crew in the flight and the airport authorities later. When the response from them was not encouraging, the victim approached the police, it is said. The state party top brass, when contacted, refused to comment on the issue.
A case under section 354 (assault or use of criminal force to woman, intending to outrage her modesty) of Indian Penal Code has been booked against Rao at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport police station following a complaint by the woman.
After landing at Hyderabad airport, Rao left for Vijayawada in another flight while the woman approached the police. Following an alert sent by the Hyderabad police, the corporator was stopped at the Vijayawada airport.
Rao denied that he misbehaved with co-passenger and said it was a miscommunication that led to the lady filing the police complaint.
Rao clarified that his leg accidentally touched the woman’s who then asked the air hostess to move Rao into another row.
“She is like my mother. Her age could be 50 to 60 years. How can I misbehave with her,” said Rao.
“The confusion was because I don’t know English or Hindi and she could not speak Telugu,” he clarified.