As outrage over the 22-year-old photojournalist’s gang-rape in Mumbai continued to spread across the nation, Mumbai Police have arrested the suspected leader of the gang of five, Kasam Bengali, on Sunday taking the number of arrests to four, according to television reports.
Kasam Bengali had allegedly raped the photojournalist twice, according to reports.
"Kasam Bengali had been picked up from the city last night (Saturday) and placed under arrest today (Sunday)," a crime branch officer probing the case told PTI. The search is on to nab the fifth accused, he said.
Mumbai Police had on Saturday arrested two other accused in a massive manhunt more than 48 hours after a crime that rattled the city and jolted the nation.
The photojournalist was raped on Thursday by five men who pretended to be railway officials and accosted her and her male colleague when they had gone for a photoshoot in the deserted Shakti Mill compound at Mahalaxmi.
Announcing the arrests, Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh said, “We should soon be able to arrest the remaining two accused.”
The police caught up with Vijay Jadhav, alias Nanu, 18, at a video parlour in the Madanpura area of south Mumbai early on Saturday morning.
They picked up his friend, Siraj Rehman, alias Ashfaque, in the evening from Govandi.
On Friday, they had arrested Chand Abdul Sattar Shaikh, 19, whose grandmother has claimed that he is a minor.
Shaikh and Jadhav were produced before the holiday magistrate court at Bhoiwada in central Mumbai separately and were both remanded in police custody till August 30. Rehman will be taken to the court on Sunday.
The case was formally transferred to the Mumbai crime branch, which is believed to be closing in on Kasim Bangali, the suspected leader of the gang of five, and Mohammad Saleem Ansari, the fifth accused.
The police suspect the attack was planned as the victim had gone to the Shakti Mills on previous occasions as part of her assignment. They believe one of the accused noticed her at the time.
The survivor, who is undergoing treatment at Jaslok Hospital, was shifted to the floor that comprises VIP suites.
“She is very brave and is coping with the reality,” said Dr Tarang Gianchandani, medical director and acting CEO of the hospital. “She has been eating all her meals and is co-operating in the treatment.”
Mumbai Police escort Vijay Jadhav, the second accused in Mumbai photojournalist gang-rape in Mumbai. Reuters photo
The case will be the first major test for the new anti-rape law, which provides for the guilty to be kept behind bars throughout their lives in gang-rape cases.
“Where a woman is raped by one or more persons constituting a group…they shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term of not less than 20 years and which may extend to the remainder of these persons’ lives,” says the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, which came into existence in April following the outrage over the Delhi gang-rape.
But much will depend on the swiftness of the police in arresting the accused and preparing the charge sheet. “The trial shall as far as possible be completed within two months of filing the charge sheet,” the new law states.
In Delhi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said, “It is a heinous crime… I am saddened and pained.”
The gang-rape resonated in the Lok Sabha, too, with members voicing concern that such incidents continue despite stringent laws. Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said a report has been sought from the state government and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde will make a statement in the House on Monday.
READ: Gang-rape accused kin claims he is a minor, police disagree
Video: Fourth accused arrested in Mumbai photojournalist gang-rape