A 38-year-old woman from Palghar district on Friday filed a case of sexual harassment against local Shiv Sena MP Rajendra Gavit. The complainant, who worked at a gas agency in Mira Road, alleged that the MP, who owned the gas agency, harassed her sexually.
The complaint filed against the Shiv Sena legislator came a day after the Maharashtra state cabinet, headed by Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray, approved draft bills for strengthening laws on prevention of atrocities against women and children. The woman had approached the Naya Nagar police station on Friday to file her complaint. The police have filed an FIR under sections 354 (A) (sexual harassment) and 506 (criminal intimidation) in the case and launched a probe in the matter.
Complainant accuses Rajendra Gavit of demanding sexual favours since 2004
The woman, in her complaint, has alleged that a year after she took up a job as a customer care staffer at his agency in 2004, he started demanding sexual favours. The single mother also alleged that Gavit had visited her rented home and even lured her into a sexual relationship by offering her a flat and money. When she turned down her sexual advances, he started harassing her physically and mentally, the complaint alleged.
The woman had already filed two non-cognizable offences on October 13 and December 10, 2015 with the police against the Shiv Sena leader. She had alleged that Gavit had publicly groped her in front of other staff. The complainant lamented that she had held on to the job despite repeated molestation by the Shiv Sena leader because she was in desperate need of money to finance her son’s education.
The woman said that after her husband abandoned her and their son in 2003, she has been working with Gavit’s gas agency. The complainant stated that Gavit was aware of her situation and had tried to lure her into a sexual relationship. She has also alleged workplace harassment, stating that she was refused weekly holidays and made to work for long hours. Gavit would also call her to his cabin and threaten her, she said.
Shiv Sena leader refutes charges of sexual harassment
However, Rajendra Gavit has rubbished the allegations levelled against him and accused the woman of exacting revenge after being sacked for swindling agency’s money. In an interview with TOI, Gavit claimed that the allegations were made by the woman after she and her three associates were caught black-marketing LPG cylinders worth more than Rs 1 crore. Gavit said that the woman was fired and a case under the Essential Commodities Act and IPC section 408 (criminal breach of trust by clerk or servant) on November 26.