In a major lapse by Maharashtra Police on Thursday, Siraj Rehman Khan, one of the accused in the Mumbai gang rape of a young photojournalist, was initially declared ‘untraceable’ on not being produced before a court, and than was later reportedly ‘found’ in the Thane Jail.
In the monumental mix-up between the jail authorities and the Maharashtra Police, the Special Public Prosecutor in the case said the court has now issued a notice for Khan to be produced in court tomorrow.
“One accused (in Mumbai photojournalist gang rape case) wasn’t produced in court today,” Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam confirmed.
“Jail authorities said the accused was with Crime branch, and the Crime Branch said he was with the Thane jail. The court has issued a notice to produce him tomorrow,” he added.
Media reports suggest that the Maharashtra Police has confirmed that the accused has now been found in Thane Jail, and had not escaped.
Earlier, Thane jail authorities reportedly told the court today that Khan was not in their custody, after which the Crime Branch denied having the accused.
This is the second slip by the Mumbai Police in two weeks, after Indian Mujahideen operative and accused in the 2008 serial bomb blast case in Gujarat, Afzal Usmani, escaped from the Mumbai Court, causing a large-scale manhunt.
Last week, Mumbai Police filed a chargesheet against the five accused of gang raping a photo-journalist, and said that they were confident of seeking 'maximum' punishment for the guilty based on the 'strong' evidence it has on them.
The 600 page chargesheet was prepared after examining 86 witnesses and on the basis of 22 DNA reports.
Meanwhile, the defence lawyer for the four accused complained to the court that he had been receiving threats from various people to drop the case.
"When I was going to the police station to meet the accused, I was stopped on way and I was threatened to withdraw from this case or I would face severe consequences," Moin Khan said.
The fifth accused in the case is a juvenile and is presently in the custody of the Juvenile Court.
The five accused in the Shakti Mills gang rape of a 23-year-old photojournalist on August 22 are Salim Ansari, Vijay Jadhav, Chand Babu Sattar Shaikh, Mohammed Kasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali and Siraj Rehman Khan.
The incident took place in Lower Parel area of Mumbai where the 23-year-old woman, an intern with an English Magazine, had gone for an assignment.
According to police, the men tied up the friend who was accompanying her and raped the woman.
The victim, who was admitted to Jaslok Hospital, has recovered from her injuries and has been sent home.