Police on Friday arrested a jobless youth and mounted a manhunt for four other accused,solving within 24 hours Thursday night’s gangrape of a photojournalist in Mumbai amid massive public outrage and protests as it brought back emories of a similar incident in Delhi on December 16,2012.
“We have arrested one of the accused who has named the others involved in the incident. The accused has also confessed to the crime,” Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told reporters.
More than 20 teams,including 10 from the elite Crime Branch,have been formed to track down the perpetrators,he said,as the police moved quickly to nab the culprits amid mounting public pressure and anger.
The city police chief declined to divulge identities of the accused lest the probe in the “extremely sensitive” case gets compromised but said two of them were history-sheeters with property related offences registered against them.
However,a top police officer identified the arrested as Chand Babu Sattat Shaikh alias Mohammed Abdul (19),a resident of south Mumbai who is unemployed. He named co-accused as Vijay Jadhav,Qasim Bengali,Saleem and Ashfaq.
Asked about the condition of the 23-year-old victim,an intern with an English magazine,he said she was “composed and stable”.
The victim,who resides in western suburbs,has been admitted to Jaslok Hospital. Preliminary reports suggested she sustained multiple internal injuries.
“The patient is with us after the unfortunate incident since last night. As of now,she is stable and Jaslok Hospital is doing its best,” a statement from the hospital said.
“We cannot give you any further information keeping in mind patient confidentiality,” said Dr Tarang Gianchandani,Acting CEO and Director (Medical Services) of Jaslok. “We are doing the needful… she is under strict observation.”
Singh said medical examination of the victim was being done and a forensic team has also been pressed into service.
He said police are trying to gather “clinching evidence” to ensure that the culprits get maximum punishment for the “shocking crime”.
Giving details of the incident,the officer said it took place around 6 last evening when the victim and her colleague went to the deserted Shakti Mills compound in Lower Parel area for taking photographs.
The accused approached them and one of them told the victim’s friend that he was responsible for a murder that had taken place in the area a few days ago. However,according to police,a murder took place on the spot two years ago.
When the victim’s colleague said he had visited the place for the first time,the accused phoned an accomplice,who arrived soon and said he also suspected that the woman’s colleague was the man who had committed the murder.
The accused then tied the hands of the victim’s colleague and took her to a nearby thicket on the pretext of “examining” her about the murder where they raped her one after the other.
The Police Commissioner said the two were not assaulted severely. “In fact,the two were showed way towards to main road. The accused did not snatch their belongings,” an officer involved in the probe said.
The victim got admitted to the Jaslok Hospital at around 8.30 pm and the police was informed.
The incident triggered strong reactions from Opposition parties which demanded the resignation of Home Minister R R Patil.
“If you can’t improve the law and order situation in Mumbai,you must resign,” State BJP President Devendra Fadnavis said.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray also gunned for Patil and alleged that the NCP leader had proved to be a “complete failure” as Home Minister.
Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe said the Government had failed to maintain law and order in the state,while NCP’s Vidya Chavan demanded stringent punishment for the culprits.
Meanwhile,Patil,who visited the hospital to enquire about the condition of the victim,expressed confidence that other perpetrators would also be nabbed soon. “We have taken the incident very seriously. No one will be allowed to spoil the law and order situation,” he said.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan,speaking to the media in Aurangabad,described it as a “highly condemnable crime” and said it would be ensured that accused are handed down “strictest” punishment.
Meanwhile,journalists took to the streets to lodge protest over the gang-rape. Scribes from various streams,sporting black bands on their arms and mouths,gathered in large numbers at Hutatma Chowk in South Mumbai.