Officers at Unit III of the Crime Branch, said DNA evidence on the clothes of the victims and those collected from the spot, apart from the phone locations of the accused helped them stitch together the conspiracy.
The conviction marks the end of an investigation that began with the five accused in the gangrape of the photojournalist being nabbed within 65 hours of the crime being reported.
“It is satisfying that our work paid off. The verdict was never in doubt. We are now hoping that the accused are sentenced to a lengthy term,” said inspector Manohar Dhanavade, the investigating officer in both cases. Dhanavade praised the courage displayed by both women while narrating their ordeals to the police.
“In the first case, we acted quickly and ensured that the victim’s clothes were sent to the FSL. We also managed to recover important evidence from the crime scene. But to prove the conspiracy and charge the accused under Section 120 (B) of the IPC, we had to also retrieve their phone locations,” said Dhanavade.
The accused, petty criminals, who spent a lot of time inside the mill compound, would prey on women walking along the abandoned railway track on platform one of Mahalaxmi station. In both cases, the accused employed the same tactic — confusing the victim’s male companions by accusing them of having committed a murder before overpowering the women.
These seven months were not without challenges. “The only problem was when the lawyer representing the accused petitioned the Bombay High Court seeking transfer of the trial to another court. That delayed the proceedings by two months,” said Dhanavade. Assistant inspector Padmakar Deore said, “Since the proceedings took place on a daily basis, it was a greater challenge to prepare for each day. It was even harder considering that both cases were being heard simultaneously.”