Two more arrested for Mumbai gang rape
MUMBAI: The Mumbai police on Saturday made two more arrests — Vijay Jadhav (19) and Siraj Khan (26) - in connection with the gang-rape of a 22-year-old photojournalist that has sparked nationwide protests, taking the total number of accused nabbed to three. But the number could easily have been four — one of the accused, Qasim Shaikh (20), escaped because he was unwittingly alerted by a police constable.
Investigations have also revealed that the five accused had planned to kill the photojournalist as well as her male colleague in case they had resisted use of force.
Late on Thursday evening, Qasim, after having committed the crime along with four of his friends, was watching TV at his hutment in Agripada when a constable named Mujawar called him on his mobile phone.
"The policeman asked him where he was and said he wanted to make some inquiries," Qasim's mother, Chand Bibi, told ToI.
Qasim immediately changed his shirt, borrowed Rs 50 from his mother and left. He has been untraceable since.
"I kept asking him where he was going in the night, but he said he'd return soon. Hours later, some policemen came to my hutment and, after having inquired about him, warned me not to inform him of their visit," Bibi said.
Qasim has three previous cases of assault and theft against him.
While Chand Shaikh, the first arrested accused, and Vijay Jadhav were produced before the holiday court in Bhoiwada on Saturday and remanded in police custody till August 30, Siraj Khan, initially identified as Ashfaque and believed to be the eldest of the five accused, will be produced before the court on Saturday.
Jadhav was arrested at 3am Saturday from a video club at Dagad chawl in Madanpura, where he had slept after watching a 9pm movie. Khan was picked up at around 4pm from a slum in Govandi where he had fled after the incident.
Jadhav lives with a friend at the latter's tenement at Ramji Barucha Marg, behind Dhobi Ghat at Agripada. Khan lives in Madanpura. Khan is homeless and lives on a footpath at Agripada.
Police said investigations had revealed that the accused had decided to kill the photojournalist and her male colleague, who accompanied her to the abandoned mill complex, in case things got out of hand.
During interrogation, Chand Shaikh told police that Jadhav and Salim (the fifth accused, who is still on the run) had hatched the rape conspiracy.
Chand said that on Thursday evening, Jadhav and Salim were on one side of the deserted Shakti Mills compound at Mahalaxmi, while he, Khan and Qasim (the second accused) were on the other side.
At around 5.30pm, Jadhav and Salim saw the survivor and her male colleague entering the mill compound.
The rape survivor has told the police that she had almost finished taking pictures when two of the accused accosted the two. They told the girl and the boy that their boss had seen them taking pictures on private property without permission, and that they would have to meet the boss. The girl asked the accused to give her the boss's mobile number so that she could talk to him, but the accused told her she had to come along with them.
"At this point, Jadhav and Salim called up Chand on his cell phone and asked him and the other two friends to come over to the other side. As soon as they reached the spot, the five planned the sexual assault," said a police officer.
The five decided to use fictitious names in front of the girl and the boy to conceal identity. While Salim used the name Sajid, Khan became Ashfaque, and Chand was called Rupesh (this was the reason Chand, during interrogation, gave Siraj Khan's name as Ashfaque to the police).
The rape survivor said in her statement, "One of the accused told my colleague that a few days ago, a man had been murdered at that spot and that my colleague was the murderer. I pleaded with them to let us go, but they shouted at me and threatened me. They then took both of us deep inside the mill compound. We offered them our camera and I-phone (worth Rs 30,000 each) and pleaded with them to leave us. They just told us to take off our belts. They then tied my friend's hands with the belts. Three of the accused stayed with my friend, while the other two took me behind a wall."
The survivor, at that point, got a phone call from her mother. "The accused threatened me with a broken bottle and said I should tell my mom everything was fine. I did what they asked me to. My mother again called me, and the accused again made me tell her everything was ok. Since it happened twice, the accused then snatched my phone and switched it off," she said.
When police questioned Chand what their plan was in case the survivor had raised an alarm, Chand said they may have killed her male colleague in order to scare her. If that did not help, they would have killed the girl herself, he said.
Chand said that since they succeeded in subduing the girl, they felt they could get away by clicking her pictures and threatening her that they would make the photos public if she complained. They never thought she would approach the police.
Source : times of India