GC: You have been assigned to the Vasco rape case from the initial stages, when CM had formed a 13-member committee. Do you see the young girl getting justice?
PWB: The incident is sad and disturbing. If today we cannot protect our children from such predators it is a shame. I cannot understand two critical decisions taking on this case by the authorities. Firstly, the decision of the government to hand-over the case to Crime Branch instantly. Secondly, if crime branch was assigned to the job, what was the need for the setting-up of a special committee of senior officers. Let me explain in detail, what I mean. If the local police were not capable of solving the case, then it could have been escalated to the Crime Branch. But if the case was hand-over to Crime Branch, then case should have been handed-over in entirety. The case for destruction of evidence still continues to be with the local police, who have been going slow on their investigations or questioning of the head-mistress, class teacher and head-clerk, because Crime Branch is investigating the rape case. So in this confusion, vital time and clues are lost.
GC: Three sketches were made by the Crime Branch of the possible suspects? And none of the sketches matches with each other? Is that true?
PWB: There were three sketches created based on the description of the head-mistress, staff teacher and young girl. And none of the sketches matches. At least the description of head-mistress and staff teacher who had seen the unknown person should have matched. But it does not match at all. Even more shockingly, the girl’s description of the rapist does not match with either the head-mistress or staff teacher. French beard or a earring on a person cannot be missed by a grown-up. It could either mean that the head-mistress and staff teacher were trying to hide the accused or they were two unknown persons in the school at that time. In fact one of the staff teacher had taken the unknown person, who was found loitering around in the school, playing with his mobile phone. When questioned the unknown person said, “he was searching for Monty”. But even knowing these facts, Crime Branch continued to pursue that there was only one unknown person in that school and it is still working on that theory.
Importantly, crucial evidence was destroyed on the instruction of the head-mistress (whether deliberate or not is a matter of debate); the fact is that the evidence was destroyed. Crime Branch should have arrested the concerned head-mistress, class teachers and head-clerk. But it happened only after seven days.
GC: Have you seen the photograph of Monty – nephew of the head-mistress? Do you think he is the rapist?
PWB: Yes I have seen some photographs of a young man named Monty who is the nephew of the head-mistress. Looking at the circumstantial evidence at hand, we must explore his connection to the incident. One of the most critical clue of the rapist, is the height of the rapist. Having seen the scene of crime. The rapist has to be over 6.2 or more in height. Many facets of Monty matches with the rapist. But Crime Branch investigation into this lead has reached a dead-end since details they have procured indicates that this particular Monty was in Dubai on that date of the incident. But what is shocking is that before procuring the necessary details of the suspect, the Crime Branch Police Inspector called Monty questioned him about his whereabouts. She even called another police officer not belonging to Crime Branch who was pursuing the Monty lead and told him not to waste time investigating that angle since the information is wrong. Strangely, a few days later, she herself started to follow-up aggressively on that lead on instructions from the seniors in the police department. Till today a vital clue in this case is the son of the head-mistress, yet he has not been interrogated alone.
GC: You have been investigating cases for many years now? What is your assessment of this particular case?
PWB: We have allowed our petty police politics and pressures from some quarters of society to affect this case. And though as a society we must give justice to this child. It is because of the lack of society taking up the case aggressively that the case is going slow.
GC: What do you mean by ‘petty police politics’ and ‘pressure from some quarters in society’?
PWB: Crime Branch never took the assistance of the police team assigned by the Chief Minister himself. In fact the Crime Branch PI had given special instructions that information on the case should not be shared with certain officers assigned to assist Crime Branch on the case. That is nothing but petty politics. Ask the other officers and you will know their frustration levels. Some of us want to solve this case. Can you tell us how in a system that is so petty. Should we not have combined our collective resources to assist in nabbing the rapist. If we attempted to even work on leads, an issue would have been made that we have tampered with the case. So we chose to remain silent spectators, some of us.
On mentioning certain quarters of society, I would not like to say anything more on that front but is it not evidently clear that some in the political sphere in both ruling and opposition have remained quiet or dismissive on this incident. Even the community from which the girl comes from appears to be keen in people forgetting the incident and moving ahead. Religious representatives of the community have even questioned the actions of certain society individuals who wanted to create more noise on the issue. Not a single person from the religious side of this community has raised their voice on the horrific crime.
GC: Is there a cover-up to the case by the police and some politicians?
PWB: I cannot comment on that. But you can look at certain key points and draw your own inferences. Firstly, why did the issue of destruction of evidence have to reach the court, could not the Crime Branch or Police Station handling the case, investigate the case in the manner in which the Children’s Court has now directed. Secondly, the destruction of evidence case was investigated by a PI whose wife works in the same school. Thirdly, the head-mistress and other concerned staff were only taken into custody seven days after the rape incident occurred, when the destruction of evidence was known on the first day itself. Hard-core and honest officers assigned to case where kept out of it deliberately. When the issue of Monty – head mistress nephew was brought to the notice of DGP and DIG after 10 days of the incident. The initial reaction by the seniors inspired confidence. But later our questioning on the Monty lead or any suggestions were ignored or negated without valid reasoning. When the family and friends made a video of the rapists based on the same photographs in possession of the police department, an attempt was made to silence and intimidate the friends because of that video. Having the photographs, what stopped Crime Branch from showing the image to the child and clearing the doubt, on the contrary they did everything else like passport details, checking the suspects Monty whereabouts with the head-mistress. Till today the police or the government has not sent the child for counseling or provided any such medical attention. Now that the Court has given its order, what has stopped the concerned officers from now arresting and questioning the head-mistress along with other staff.
You must also note that not one of the ruling MLAs from the constituency of Vasco or Mormugao have raised the issue at the on-going assembly yet. In my opinion, some quarters do not want the case to be solved and they involve the police, politicians and school management.