Puzzle pieces and body blows
Five men in Feb 5 mesh
A full cast of characters, from Park Street to Kidderpore, has emerged since a mother of two alleged that she was assaulted and raped in a moving car by a group of strangers she had met at a nightclub on the night of February 5.
Metro spoke to friends, families and the police to stitch together the information available on those who hold vital clues to the case.
Lavi Gidwani: The 24-year-old said to have befriended the alleged victim at a nightclub on Park Street and then offered her a lift.
Lavi told Metro on Thursday he was writing an exam at Sheridan Learning and Teaching Environment in Toronto hours after he is said to have been zipping around in a car from Park Street to the Exide crossing with the woman being assaulted next to him.
“I don’t know this lady…. Have never met her in my life,” said Lavi, pursuing a PG diploma in business finance.
Lavi, a resident of Chowringhee Lane in Calcutta, added he suspected a “deep conspiracy against me”.
He admitted knowing Sharafat Ali and Azhar Ali (two others named by the woman in the FIR) “since a long time”.
Lavi had set up a call centre on Wellesly Street about a year ago. He said Ambar Ali, whose name has come up during the course of investigation, used to work at the call centre but was later fired on charges of leaking data.
Immigration reports, the police said, have confirmed he has been in Canada since January 2. According to the Security Control Organisation (SCO), his port of arrival in Canada was Toronto.
On January 1, he had taken the Air India flight that goes to Toronto via Delhi. “All my travel documents are open for examination. I have nothing to hide,” said Lavi.
Sharafat Ali: The prime accused is in detention since 5.30pm on Wednesday. Lives in Kidderpore and co-owns the call centre with Lavi and Azhar.
Sharafat, the police said, had gone to Azhar’s house for a religious gathering on February 5. He left around 11.30pm and was dropped home by Azhar in his Honda Civic. On the way, they stopped at a Russell Street dhaba for tea.
Azhar Ali: The man said to have occupied the seat next to the driver’s that night has been under detention at Lalbazar since Wednesday evening.
The co-owner of the call centre lives on Ripon Street and owns a Honda Civic. Azhar was attending a religious celebration at home for which Sharafat had turned up.
Azhar’s father Abdul Reza said on Thursday he had submitted “video footage that proves Azhar was at home that night”. Azhar dropped Sharafat and returned home.
Ambar Ali: The only one so far known to be acquainted with the victim and the accused. Lives in Tollygunge and used to work at Lavi’s call centre on Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road. Was fired a year-and-a-half ago for allegedly stealing data.
Ambar then joined a call centre jointly set up by the victim and her sister in Dover Lane. “The victim is said to have invested Rs 1.5 lakh — thanks to Faroukh Halim, son of former Speaker Hashim Abdul Halim — in the call centre and her sister provided the knowhow. She fell out with her sister as the business floundered. A fortnight before the incident, she had turned up at the call centre and asked for a payback. A heated exchange had followed in front of (Ambar) Ali,” a police officer said. “Ali had intervened and asked the victim to leave.”
After the incident on February 5, the victim is said to have visited Ambar’s friends list on Facebook and copied pictures of the three accused.
Faroukh Halim: The friend to whose Elliot Road house the victim went after the assault.
“The victim called him at 3.31am on February 6,” said an officer. He was on the pavement in front of his house when she reached, “very agitated and angry”. They boarded the same taxi. He dropped her home in Behala and returned in the same cab.