Three of the five accused in the August 22 gangrape of a photojournalist in an abandoned mill in central Mumbai are suspected to have also raped an 18-year-old woman in the same ruins three weeks earlier.
Separately,details emerged on Tuesday of allegations of rape and sexual assault against a fourth accused in the case. This man,24-year-old Siraj Rehman Khan who was arrested from Mumbra two days after the assault on the photojournalist was allegedly a habitual sexual offender about whom local police knew. He is not among the men alleged to have gangraped the 18-year-old.
The teenager,who works as a telephone operator,approached the police on Monday night alleging that she had been gangraped by five men in the Shakti Mills compound on July 31 evening.
Police showed her sketches of the five accused in the August 22 case,and she identified three Salim Ansari,Qasim Shaikh and Vijay Jadhav as being among those who had assaulted her.
After questioning the three men,police zeroed in on the other two suspects.
One of these two suspects,a minor,was picked up on Tuesday evening. The police were hunting for the second suspect. These two are not connected with the assault on the photojournalist,police sources said.
The teen has told police that she was walking on the railway tracks alongside the Shakti Mills compound with her boyfriend on July 31 when they were stopped by three men who assaulted her boyfriend and dragged them inside the mill.
In a style chillingly reminiscent of the assault on the photojournalist,the men,who were joined by two others,tied the boyfriend to a tree with a dupatta and then took turns to rape the woman. The men left after untying the man and threatening the couple with dire consequences if they went to police.
Three of the accused in the August 22 case have allegedly told investigators that they had targeted at least three other women before the photojournalist: a ragpicker,a commercial sex worker and one who was with a man. Police were investigating whether this couple could be the teen and her boyfriend.
The couple have told the police that after recovering from the shock of what had happened to them,they decided to go away to Chhattisgarh to stay with a friend of the man. They returned to Mumbai on September 1 and,because the womans mother had filed a missing person complaint on August 1,went to the police on September 2.
These are being treated as two separate cases, Niket Kaushik,additional commissioner (Crime Branch),said. We are probing the August 22 incident,while the N M Joshi Marg police are investigating the July 31 case.
It is learnt,meanwhile that one of the other accused in the August 22 case,Siraj Rehman Khan,allegedly sexually assaulted a 40-year-old transgender and a 32-year-old tuberculosis-afflicted woman on consecutive nights in the Dhobi Ghat slums in that same week.
The TB patient died within a week of the assault. Her family has alleged that police did not register a complaint,instead insulted her and let Siraj off after merely slapping him around.
The transgender was allegedly raped by Siraj and another man called Kalli in the early hours of August 19. The victim said that she had been drinking with the men before they assaulted her,and a small boy had witnessed the assault. But,she said,I did not go to the police because I know that they wont register my complaint.
The following night,around 2 am on August 20,Siraj allegedly carried the 32-year-old woman to a dark corner next to one of the entrances to Dhobi Ghat and raped her. The woman had three daughters aged 15,13 and 10.
According to the girls,their mothers health began to deteriorate after the attack,and she was admitted to Kasturba Hospital in Agripada on August 26,where she died the following day. The autopsy concluded that she had died of bilateral pulmonary tuberculosis with dissemination to the liver.
The eldest daughter said she had been alerted to her mothers rape while the crime was in progress. They had gone to the police,and Siraj had followed them. But,she said,One officer insulted my mother because she would drink a lot. When Siraj arrived,the policemen slapped him a couple of times and hit with a belt. Another officer noted down the name,address and cell phone number of my sister in a register and told us that werent required anymore.
Asked about the allegations,Satya Narayan Choudhary,deputy commissioner,Crime Branch Detection 1,said,Nothing like this has come to my knowledge so far.