"I was scared and locked myself at home."
Zara Khan, the daughter of singer and actress Salma Agha, reportedly received rape and death threats on social media.
At a police station in Mumbai, she said that she received the threats from an unknown person on Instagram between October 28 and November 3, 2020.
Zara revealed that she started receiving abusive messages. They soon became more obscene and later turned into death and rape threats.
She said the ordeal left her so scared that she locked herself in her house and did not go out.
Zara explained: “From October I have been receiving abusive and obscene messages on my Instagram page from four different accounts.
“I didn’t reply to any of them, but later I got death threats from them.
“I was scared and locked myself at home. I also stopped working and avoided social media.
“Then my relatives also started receiving such messages on their social media accounts. After a month, I registered a complaint.”
After receiving the complaint, officers enlisted the help of the cyber department and Instagram.
Police said: “After Zara Khan approached us, we informed the cyber department and took help from the Instagram team and traced the accused on the basis of local IP address.”
Officers identified the accused as Noorah Saravar, a 23-year-old MBA student from Hyderabad.
It was revealed that she had made a fake account which she used to send the rape threats to Zara.
Senior Inspector Dayanand Bangar, of Oshiwara Police Station, said:
“The accused sent vulgar messages and murder threats on Instagram. A duplicate Instagram account was made by the accused.”
“We wrote a letter to Instagram who helped us.”
However, when officers went to issue a notice to Saravar on December 4, 2020, she did not appear to respond properly. Police believe that the accused has mental health issues.
SI Bangar added: “We sent a notice on Friday. The officer who had gone to give the notice found that she was not responding properly.
“She was not ready to come only. A medical treatment is yet to be done, but she looked mentally disturbed.
“She didn’t react like a normal person.”
Police registered a case under Sections 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult to modesty of a woman), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC and Information Technology Act 67(a) (punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing the sexually explicit act).
During questioning, Saravar told police that Zara and her work colleagues were collaborating with a political party and were targeting her.
Despite her statement, police are yet to find a motive behind the rape threats.
Saravar has been asked to appear before the court on December 12, 2020.
Following the ordeal, Zara has requested Instagram to make policy changes and take better steps to ensure the safety of women on its platform.
Like her mother Salma Agha, Zara is an actress and singer.
A few months ago, she came up with her new song ‘Jogan’. Zara said she will shoot the music video once lockdown is over.