The night-long hunt of Mumbai police for the five youth who gangraped a 22-year-old photojournalist in an abandoned mill in Mahalaxmi on Thursday evening was aided in part by a 10-year-old boy who they had asked to arrange for a change of clothes after the incident.
An officer investigating the case said while they were at the spot they got a tip-off that the 10-year-old boy was used by the accused for odd jobs. “It was while questioning him that we got clarity on the identity of the accused, and found that Chand Abdul Sattar, the accused who has been arrested, resides nearby,” an officer said.
Following this, the local Agripada police, where Sattar has a prior record, swooped down on Jai Bhawani Nagar, located about 500 metres from the mill compound, and arrested him. His interrogation helped the police to identity the other accused, who are on the run.
Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh said 20 teams — 10 each from the crime branch and the city police — have been formed to hunt down the accused. “The investigators have identified all the accused, four of whom stay in the vicinity of the mill compound. They are unemployed and were regular visitors to the deserted mill,” he said.
Based on the description given by the survivor and her colleague, the police were able to prepare sketches of the accused, which are said to be 85% accurate, said Singh. “The fact that the two are photographers may have helped as their observation was sharp and they described the accused in detail,” an officer said.
Singh along with Sadanand Date, joint commissioner of police (law and order), were at NM Joshi Marg police station till late on Thursday night and formed an action plan to crack the case.
The police started with rounding up several suspects like drug addicts in the area for information on the accused.
The police also checked mobile phone records to see the calls made from and received at the spot where the incident took place.
“Forensic experts have also collected samples from the scene of incident and all steps are being taken to trace the accused and prepare a strong case,” Singh said.
A case has been registered against the accused under various IPC sections, including 376 (D) — the amendment made after the gangrape in Delhi — which carries a minimum punishment of up to 20 years.