The Mumbai police team that went to Hyderabad to arrest the fifth accused in the gang-rape of a 19-year-old girl at Shakti Mill in Mahalaxmi, where a photojournalist was also similarly targeted, has returned empty-handed. The case was reported five days ago, and four of the accused, three of whom were also involved in the photojournalist's gangrape, are behind bars.
An officer privy to the investigations said: "We had been tracking the accused, Ashfaque Shaikh, through technical surveillance and found that he had gone to Hyderabad. After questioning his friends, we learnt Shaikh has a friend there." Following this, a police team went to the friend's residence, but Shaikh had already fled the place.
The officer said, "We suspect Shaikh realised we had tracked him down. Hence, he stopped using electronic devices, and has gone off our radar."
When contacted for his response on the delay in the fifth arrest, Mumbai police spokesperson, deputy commissioner of police Satya Narayan Chaudhary, confirmed the arrest was not made but refused to comment further.
Sources said three teams have been formed, which visited different states to track Shaikh. In the photojournalist's gangrape case, the police commissioner had formed 20 teams to nab the accused.
The arrested accused are lodged in Byculla prison, where they have kept in isolation from other inmates. The crime branch will seek their custody next week to interrogate them in connection with the gangrape of the 19-year-old.
"We need to question them to extract more evidence," said the officer. Following this, an identification parade will be conducted for the 19-year-old to single out the accused. The fourth accused is at the Dongri children home as he is a minor.