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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Mumbai gang-rape: search on for cellphone, other key clues

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 27, 2013
First Published: 00:17 IST(27/8/2013) | Last Updated: 01:31 IST(27/8/2013)

The probe into the rape of the 22-year-old photojournalist is moving apace. But while the police are using advanced techniques used to collect microscopic evidence, a key bit of clue still eludes them.

The cellphone photo of the victim which accused Mohamed Ansari clicked before releasing her, has been deleted. And the cellphone of key accused Mohamed Kasim Shaikh alias Bangali, is yet to be found. He had sold the phone while being on the run. Kasim's phone is expected to yield clues to the identity of the four other women - ragpickers -- who were raped by the gang at the same spot.

"Ansari has deleted all photographs. We will be sending the mobile to the Mumbai Forensic Science Laboratory to retrieve the photographs," said Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh.

As the other victims never came forward, the only way to identify them is through the photographs which Kasim had probably clicked, said a police officer. The police have already zeroed in on the shop where Kasim had sold the phone.

To prove the presence of the accused in the crime scene, the police are using the technique of "crime rummaging" - a technology normally employed in terror cases and conducted only by advanced forensic laboratories.

Explaining how it works, the officer said an FSL team normally collects evidence visible to the naked eye -- bottles, blood samples, cigarettes. "In 'rummaging', they use technology to collect the tiniest of particles, like pollen found on foliage or mud samples. Presence of similar matter on the clothes of the accused and survivor proves their presence at the scene," the officer said.

Search is also on for a ragpicker, who passed the Shakti Mill compound when the crime took place and could be a prime witness.  The police have also got the potency test of the accused done.

"Normally, the accused in a rape case argue they are impotent. We want to eliminate that defence ploy," the officer said.

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