The city police on Saturday made two arrests in connection with the gang rape of a 23-year-old photojournalist on the Shakti Mills premises on Thursday evening. Another arrest was reported on Sunday morning.
With this, the total number of arrests in this case stands at four. One more accused is still on the run. The case was transferred to the Mumbai crime branch late on Saturday. Details on the fourth arrest are awaited.
While the first arrest on Saturday of Vijay Jadhav, 19, was made in Madanpura area of South Mumbai, the second of Shiraj Rehman alias Ashfaque was made at night from Mahalaxmi, where he was hiding. Jadhav, a Dombivli resident and son of a BMC official, also has a case of theft against him in central Mumbai.
On Friday, the police had arrested Chand Sheikh, a resident of Dhobighat, Agripada.
Sheikh and Jadhav were produced before the metropolitan magistrate at Bhoiwada on Saturday who remanded them in police custody till August 30.
The police have seized Jadhav’s mobile phone and asked for call data records from the service provider. This data is expected to yield valuable information relating to the crime.
The police said the details of the conversations/SMSes made through this phone will be available to them within a fortnight.
The victim, who was interning with a city-based magazine, was allegedly gang-raped when she had gone there with a male colleague for a photo shoot. While two of the accused allegedly beat up her male friend and tied him up with a belt, the others took her to a spot 20 feet away and raped her.
All the five accused are unemployed. Two of them are history-sheeters. Sheikh was behind bars on two occasions, once for three months and later for six months in separate property offences.
Sources said some of the accused were railway scrap thieves and would gather in the mill every evening to consume drugs, often bought from the money they made after selling the stolen scrap.
Elaborating on how Jadhav was arrested, a police official said the accused had his mobile phone with him but had switched it off after learning about Sheikh’s arrest.
“We kept his phone on tracking. He would switch it on only to make calls to his friends to find out the situation outside.
We tracked his location to a video parlour in Madanpura, where he had been hiding since 11pm on Thursday,” the officer added. In his statement to the police, Jadhav apparently spoke about how his father, a BMC employee warned him about “bad company”. He also revealed that he was the last one to rape the victim since he was the youngest in the group.
The police are on the lookout for the two others. While some suspect that the accused have fled the city, others say they are hiding in the city.
The police said that soon after Chand Sheikh was arrested, they interrogated him. Initially, he gave a random name and a police team picked up five people based on that name.
When he was asked to identify who his accomplice was, he gave a different name. “These are hardened criminals. We cannot go by anything they are telling us and have to cross-check every bit of information they provide,” said a senior police officer. Sources also said that the accused had clicked obscene photographs of the victim while she was being raped and had threatened to circulate them if she raised an alarm.
The police are going to make it mandatory that such secluded places have security guards and no person is allowed inside.