The spate of gangrapes suspected to have taken place at the Shakti Mill compound in Mahalaxmi began six months ago when one of the accused tricked his girlfriend into visiting the deserted mill, where she was allegedly gang-raped.
After they got away with the crime, the accused started using different methods to lure girls to the isolated area.
Police suspect at least six to seven girls were targeted since, but their identities may not be known as no concerted efforts are being made to trace them; the investigating team is relying solely on the survivors approaching them to lodge a complaint.
An officer privy to the investigation said, “The juvenile arrested in the second gang-rape case, in which a 19-year-old girl was sexually abused, had lured his girlfriend to the mill about six months ago with the intention of gangraping her. We suspect this was the first time they worked as a gang.”
The police suspect the emboldened accused then started targeting sweepers and rag pickers working nearby. “They used various pretexts to get women to the mill compound to rape them. The mill had already become a den of such activities when the photojournalist went there for her assignment,” the officer said.
The 22-year-old photojournalist had gone to the mill with a male colleague on August 22, when she was gangraped by five youths, who have since been arrested.
When asked if the juvenile’s girlfriend had been traced, the officer said they would try to look for her, but conceded “it will be difficult to find her”.
While the police still have no clarity on how many women have been gangraped, the officer said: “We won’t be surprised on finding that they targeted six to seven women in the past six months.”
When asked if they can trace the victims from the photographs retrieved from the mobiles of the accused, who had also taken one of the photojournalist, the officer said: “The accused told us that in the earlier cases, they did not expect the women to complain against them.
Hence, they did not take their photos on their mobiles. So unless the complainants come forward, as the 19-year-old survivor did, the chances of them being tracked are limited.”