The Malad towing incident has taken a complete u-turn as a newly emerged video shows that the woman, whose car was towed while she was breastfeeding, sat inside the car on purpose and was handed over the baby later.
On Saturday, a video went viral on social media that showed a car being towed in Mumbai’s Malad area, while a woman was breastfeeding her seven-month-old baby inside it. The incident took place on Friday evening at S.V Road, in Malad (West).
The woman in the video, Jyoti Male, accuses the official of deliberately towing her car even though there were other illegally parked cars ahead. She also alleges that the cop chose to tow her vehicle despite the fact that she was sitting inside and feeding her child.
Her husband Jairaj, who allegedly shot the video and uploaded it on social media, can also be heard questioning the traffic constable if he will assume responsibility if something happens to the child.
The video sparked a major outrage and the traffic policeman’s actions met with sharp criticism from all sectors, with some calling for the concerned official’s suspension and arrest.
In the wake of the incident, Shashank Rane, the cop in question, was suspended with immediate effect.
“It has been prima facie noticed that safety of the woman and the child was endangered in the incident. Hence, pending inquiry, the constable is being placed under suspension,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Amitesh Kumar said.
Rane, who also flouted norms by not wearing a nameplate on his uniform, may face a departmental action after a detailed report about the incident is filed.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also condemned the incident and said efforts would be taken to sensitise cops further.
“It is very unfortunate and absolutely insensitive and dangerous to tow the vehicle with lady and the child inside. The cop is suspended and orders have been given to sensitise traffic cops so as to prevent such incidents,” he said.
In a shocking twist, a new video that surfaced on Sunday night shows that the seven-month-old baby was not inside the car but in the arms of another family member when the traffic police tried to tow it away.
The infant was taken inside later on, indicating that the situation could have been averted on part of the parent.
Even her husband Jairaj, who can be seen talking on the phone, directs her to not leave the vehicle. “Bhaiyya bol rahein hain tu gaadi se utarna mat. Towing se jaa rahein hain to towing se jaane de,” he tells Jyoti.
Officials also tried to reason with Jyoti and urged her to leave the vehicle, but to no avail.
The video contradicts the account of the alleged victim, who told ANI that the policemen did not even ask her to get down before towing the car, even when she told them that she was breastfeeding.
Earlier, National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma said a strict action should be taken against the policeman, but added if the woman acted irresponsibly, a case should be registered against her as well.
“When I saw the video last night, my first reaction was that the police personnel should be suspended and an action should be taken against him. But I read in the morning that the mother kept sitting inside the moving car. Our first concern is that of the child. If the case goes against the lady, then the lady should be booked,” Rekha Sharma told ANI.
Response to new video:
On her part, Jyoti tried to clarify why she sat in the car in the first place.
“I want to clarify that we were not in the vehicle initially. We approached the boys who were in the process of towing our vehicle. While we got into an argument with them, my child started crying. By then, a large crowd had gathered. Hence, my husband told me to get inside the car so that I could feed my kid. I got in the car and they started towing the vehicle,” she told reporters.
She also accepted the fact that they had parked the vehicle in a no parking spot.
“At no point did I deny that we were in the wrong since we parked at no parking spot. We told the police that we were willing to pay the fine. I told him that my husband, Jairaj, was suffering from high fever and we had gone for medical tests,” she added.
Eye-witnesses speak in cop’s defence:
While netizens were quick to jump to conclusions and slam the police after the first video surfaced, eye-witnesses have come out and spoken in favour of the officials.
“We were doing our work when I saw that woman run towards the car and sit in it. She was yelling at the traffic cop and was saying that there were other cars also parked there and so they should be towed instead of hers,” a local pan bidi shop owner told Asian Age.
“The constable explained to her for a few minutes but later when she said she was not going to get out of the car, the police started towing the car, while the woman’s husband gave her the child and closed the door,” he added.
Another local, Bharat Soni, said that that Jyoti had come to the area to shop.
“I was watching the scene…suddenly this woman sat in the car and started arguing. The police asked them to come to the police station and complete the formalities, but she was not ready to get out of the car, and then took her child inside,” he told the daily.
Video 1 – A video showing a woman breastfeeding her child while her car is being towed by traffic police in Malad is uploaded on social media on Saturday. The video takes the internet by storm and netizens slam the traffic police for their insensitivity.
Video 2 – Later in an interview, the victim Jyoti claims that the traffic policemen towed her vehicle deliberately and without warning. She demands a public apology from the department.
Video 3 – A new video, depicting scenes before the car was actually towed, starts circulating on Sunday evening. The video and eye-witness accounts confirm that Jyoti sat in the car while cops were in the process of towing the vehicle. The infant was also outside the car when officials were pleading her to vacate it and feed the child in a police vehicle instead.