Seeking police custody of Siraj Rehman,24,and Mohammad Qasim,18,arrested in the August 22 gangrape case,the Mumbai Police Sunday recounted the details of the incident before the Esplanade court in Mumbai. The police narrated the chain of events that took place between 5.30 pm,when the two photojournalists reached the premises of Shakti Mills compound,and 8.30 pm,when the police started investigation.
A woman photojournalist and her male colleague left office for an assignment and reached Mahalaxmi railway platform number one at 5 pm. They took the path along the tracks and walked up to a small opening to the Shakti Mills compound. They stood along the weathered and broken compound wall for a few minutes and realised that the path leading to the compound did not look safe and conducive to walk.
It was 5.30 pm by then and they were wondering if there was another access to the mill when two youths emerged from one of the big crevices in the wall. One of them pointed them to another access a few steps ahead,saying it was a beaten path and much safer to walk. Both heeded to their advice.
The girl used her IPhone and her male colleague his Nikon camera as they clicked pictures for the assignment. From the spot where they stood,and they could hear traffic sounds and the light was good enough to see vehicles and passersby on the road on the other side of another wall of the compound. They decided to take that route to exit,instead of the one along the tracks. It was 6.15 when they finished the assignment.
Three youths now emerged from inside the premises and one of them said: Our boss has seen you and you will have to come with us. To this,the girl said,I will speak with your boss,but refused to walk with them. The three did not budge and forced the two to follow them.
The female photojournalist called her photo editor but the latters phone was busy. The two then asked the youths to use the open road that was still visible,instead of taking the path from inside the premises. The three refused again. They were walking towards the mills through a difficult path when the photo editor returned the call. The girl told the photo editor that some unidentified men were asking them to go inside the mill to meet someone. The photo editor told them to immediately leave the premises.
One of the youths then stopped and informed them of a murder that took place there a few days ago. Another pointedly asked the male photojournalist if he was the murderer. Here,the youths from whom the two had asked for direction earlier,joined the three suspects and all five started threatening the photojournalists.
Sensing trouble,the girl started pleading with the five to let them go,when one of the youths asked her to shut up. Another removed his belt and thrashed her colleague. Two more came forward and used the same belt to tie his hands. The girl handed them over all their belongings and asked the five to let them go. The suspects did not pay heed and asked the girl too to remove her belt. They also removed the belt of her male colleague,and with the two belts they further tied him up. The two were then separated. Two youths dragged the girl to a vacant,dilapidated room a few metres away.
Inside,her phone started ringing. Seeing it to be her mothers call,she was threatened to act normal. Sensing something is amiss,the mother called back,but this time one of the youths told her to say ghabrana nahi,sab kuch theek hain. After she finished the call,one of the youths pulled a piece of a broken beer bottle from his shirt pocket and threatened to kill her if her mother called again. He switched off the phone.
Threatening her with the same piece of the broken bottle,he took her to a corner of the room,away from everyone,and raped her. The four others then took turns to rape her,telling her each time they her male colleague would be killed if she didnt comply. After about 30 minutes,the first youth returned to rape her again and then asked her to dress up and clean up the place. Two more walked in,clicked her photograph and asked her not to reveal anything to anyone,not even to her colleague tied up outside. One of them took now took another photograph of her.
The victim was taken back to her male colleague who was then untied. The accused asked the two to check their belongings and see if everything was safe. The five accused walked with the victim and her colleague,who has been shown as a witness in the remand,and dropped them back near the railway tracks. They asked them to walk towards Mahalaxmi railway station and started walking on the opposite direction.
On reaching platform number one,the victim recounted the 45-minute ordeal to her colleague. She then called her photo editor who reached there and took her to Jaslok Hospital. Around 8 pm,the hospital authorities informed NM Joshi police station about the case. The police swung into action at 8.30 pm.