Siraj Rehman Khan alias Sirju, 24, who has been arrested for the rape of the 22-year-old photojournalist, has a criminal past and was part of a notorious group in the area, residents of Dhobighat have said.
It was this group that made Siraj stick on to the area, despite his family having moved to Mumbra many years ago, locals claim. Residents in the area said that after his father's death, his mother remarried and settled in Mumbra, but Sirju preferred to sleep on the pavements of Dhobighat.
"Sirju was involved in stealing metal from railway property. He had no permanent location and used to sleep on the pavements of Dhobighat even though his mother wanted him to stay with her in Mumbra," said Jayashri, a resident of the area who claimed that she has known Sirju since he was a child.
She added, "Sirju had two brothers. One of them died around a year ago. He is the youngest. The gang [rape accused] has given our area a bad name."
"Sirju's father died when he was a child. The family moved out of Dhobighat but Sirju continued to stay here." said Jayashri.
Another person in the area said, "Sirju did odd labour jobs in the area and was also involved in stealing, for which the police have arrested him in the past. He was also involved in taking drugs. Sirju and another accused used to often spend time together. "
Residents said Siraj and his friends used the Shakti Mill compound to smoke and drink.