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Lodge owner, taxi driver held for rape of minor girl from South Mumbai

A 27-year-old owner of a lodge in Dadar and a taxi driver, also in his twenties, were arrested by the Mumbai police on Monday for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old mentally challenged girl inside a moving taxi. Police said that the incident took place early Monday, and the two accused were traced and arrested soon after the incident.

According to police, the lodge owner has been identified as Salman Shaikh while the taxi driver as Sriprakash Pandey.

An official said that the girl left her house in South Mumbai at around 2.30 am on Monday. “She went out alone and called for a taxi. She then asked the driver to take her to her relative’s place in the (northern) suburbs,” the official said.

The taxi driver sensed an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and took her to Shaikh’s lodge in Dadar (East), where the lodge owner also boarded the taxi. Then they started going towards Santacruz, police said.

“During the journey, Shaikh sexually assaulted her in the taxi. Later they dropped her off near Vakola in Santacruz and escaped,” said an investigator.

Meanwhile, the girl’s parents lodged a complaint as the girl was missing from home. Police launched a probe and found the girl loitering in Santacruz area. The incident of sexual assault came to light after police inquired with the minor girl.

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“We then checked the CCTV footage and found the registration number of the taxi,” said an officer.

The driver was then questioned, during which he narrated the incident, following which the lodge owner was arrested.

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The two accused have been booked under relevant sections of rape and kidnapping under Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children under Sexual Offences Act 2012, police said.

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