In the Dhobi Ghat area of Mahalaxmi in Mumbai,23-year-old Siraj Rehman Khan,who was arrested from Mumbra area on Saturday for the gangrape of the photojournalist,is infamous as a criminal who slept in the open every night.
Though his address is stated as Sai Baba Nagar in Dhobi Ghat,locals claim that Khans family last lived there more than a decade ago. The family did live in Sai Baba Nagar,but their house was very bare and built of bamboos. After Sirajs father died,his mother married another man and they moved to Mumbra with him. Her three sons refused to move with her and chose to stay homeless in Dhobi Ghat, said Mohammad Ramzan (22),who also lives in Sai Baba Nagar.
Ramzan and other neighbours were initially baffled after being asked about Siraj. He is known here as Sirju and is the youngest of three brothers. The eldest,Mukhtar (30),was also picked up by the police to get information about Siraj. Another sibling,Mardawa (25),died of a prolonged tuberculosis infection last year. All three were involved in thievery at Mahalaxmi railway station and have cases registered against them both with the railway police and Agripada police station, he said.
The brothers,he said,used to surface only during night along with the other accused in the gangrape case at the fish market in Dhobi Ghat. They then frequented bars in Kamathipura. I had forbidden them from drinking in the neighbourhood and making a ruckus. Yet,they often drank in the open all night, said Jayshree (58),a resident of the area. I have seen all the three boys since they were toddlers,and they were always involved in trouble. As they grew up,they began to visit Shakti Mills daily and consumed all kinds of drugs,apart from alcohol. They spent hours there and made it their hideout.