"Yes, my son is involved in petty crimes, but he would never rape a girl. Also, he is a minor." This was what Chandbiwi, mother of main accused Mohamed Kasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Bangali, had to say.
Police escort Mohamed Kasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Bangali, prime accused in the gang rape, after producing him before a court. (AP Photo)
This was the second accused, who according to his family, is a minor. On Friday, the grandmother of Chand Abdul Sattar, the first man arrested in the case, had claimed he was a minor.
Kasim, the 22-year-old photojournalist said, had raped her twice. But to his mother, he was just a boy doing odd jobs, hoping someday to gain employment as a driver.
READ: Survivor to be kept in hospital
READ: Survivor was made to clear spot of evidence
On Sunday, Chandbiwi came to court to meet her son, but she was too late. By then, Kasim had already been taken to the office of the crime branch unit 3, where he would be lodged for his police custody.
"He is just 17-years and police have showed him as a 18-year-old just to arrest him and falsely implicate in the case," she said. "I know my son well and I'm confident he would come clean."
The other accused, 22-year-old Siraj Rehman Khan alias Sirju, though, has no family to defend him. And the locals of Dhobi Ghat say he was a part of a notorious group in the area.
READ: 24-year-old didn't leave area even when mother moved out
It was this group that made Sirju stay back, even when his family moved to Mumbra years ago.
After his father's death, his mother remarried. "She wanted him to stay in Mumbra. But Sirju slept on pavements of Dhobighat and stole metals from railway property," said Jayashri, a resident who knew him since he was a child.
"Sirju was involved in thefts, for which he had got arrested in the past. He was also a drug addict," agreed another local.
The people at the Shakti Mill compound, where the young photojournalist had been raped on Thursday, know about the presence of addicts, robbers, and thieves. "We do not dare to enter inside," said a garage owner.
READ: Manhunt took 80 cops and 72 hours
READ: Police-public tie-up can curb crime: Experts
READ: India will have to get used to women in these jobs
READ: Molestation to be a non-bailable offence? Not any time soon
READ: Gang leader's luck runs out, caught napping at Nair hospital
READ: Overwhelmed by the support, from everyone: Mumbai gang-rape victim's mother
VIDEO: Family of Mumbai gang-rape victim calls for privacy