Three of the five accused in last week’s Mumbai gangrape of a photojournalist are history-sheeters and none is a juvenile,Mumbai police chief Satyapal Singh said on Monday,even as the fifth accused arrested in the case was remanded in police custody till September 5.
Referring to the claim made by Chand’s family that he was just 16 years of age,the police chief said at the time of his arrest in 2011,the records mentioned he was aged 18 years. “None of them is a juvenile. Still,if need arises,we will go for an ossification test to determine his age.”
A mobile phone,suspected to have been used by the accused to click photos of the victim,has been seized. “Only one photograph was said to have been clicked but even that is not available now. We will try to retrieve it,” he said.
The Police Commissioner said experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory and Gujarat Forensic Science Laboratory would assist the city police in gathering “clinching evidence” against the accused. While the team from CFSL has already arrived,the one from Gujarat will reach soon.
Singh said the process of setting up a fast track court to try the case and appointing a prosecutor is underway and charge sheet would be filed at the earliest.
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan had on Sunday said eminent criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nikam,who was the public prosecutor in the 1993 Bombay serial blasts case and 26/11 attacks case,would lead the prosecution in the gangrape case of the 23-year-old photojournalist.
The officer said three of the accused–Chand Bahu Sattar Sheikh,Vijay Jadhav and Mohammed Qasim–had criminal records. While the first two had one case of theft each
registered against them in 2011,Qasim had three cases of theft and one of robbery.
Asked about media reports that the gang could be involved in similar offences at the deserted Shakti Mills compound in the past,he said,”We are looking into his aspect,but as of now we have received no such complaint. The accused have also not made any such confession during the interrogation.”
Media reports had suggested that the accused could be involved in some incidents of rape at the desolate and defunct Shakti Mills compound in the past which were not reported as they took pictures of the victims and threatened them with blackmail if they informed the police.
Gangrape was not pre-planned
The Mumbai police chief also trashed suggestions that the crime could be pre-planned. “It was not a pre-meditated crime,” he said responding to a query.
“All the accused were born and brought up in Mumbai,” he said in an apparent reference to the statements made by MNS chief Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut in the wake of the incident suggesting that migrants could be involved.
When asked what evidence police expected to gather with the help from forensic experts from outside when,by its own admission,the accused had forced the victim,an intern with an English magazine,to clean up the place after the crime,he said,”no matter how much the accused may try,some evidence is always left behind”.
“We have collected scientific evidence from the scene of the crime. More can be collected with the help of forensic experts (from outside),” Singh said.
272 deserted places in Mumbai
Singh said police have identified 272 deserted places and dilapidated buildings like the Shakti Mills premises and notices would be sent to their owners or court-appointed receivers to provide for security to prevent such incidents.
“Instructions in this regard would be issued soon. Failure to comply with the directions would invite action,” he said.
Meanwhile,Salim Ansari,the fifth accused in the case,who was arrested from Delhi on Sunday,was today produced before a metropolitan court which remanded him in
police custody till September five.
Four other accused– Vijay Jadhav,Chand Babu Sattar Shaikh,Mohammed Kasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali and Siraj Rehman Khan–who were arrested earlier,are in police custody till August 30.
All the five accused have been booked under various sections of IPC including 376(D) (rape),342 (wrongful confinement) and 506(2) (criminal intimidation).
The victim had gone to the Shakti Mills premises with a colleague on August 22 evening for taking photographs for her magazine when she was sexually assaulted,triggering nation-wide and protests.