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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

All 5 rape accused arrested, govt promises speedy trial

Rahul Mahajani and Mohamed Thaver, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 25, 2013
First Published: 11:20 IST(25/8/2013) | Last Updated: 02:48 IST(26/8/2013)

The police on Sunday arrested the remaining two suspects in the gang rape of a photojournalist, picking up one from his hideout in a busy city hospital and the other from near his relatives' home in Delhi.

Mohamed Kasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Bangali, 21, the alleged gang leader, was arrested at Nair Hospital early in the morning. The police found him sleeping in a crowd of attendants and relatives.

Rounding off a 72-hour manhunt, a joint team of the Mumbai crime branch and Delhi Police caught up with the fifth suspect, Mohamed Salim Ansari, 27, in the Capital's Ashok Vihar locality just as he was planning to leave the country. He was to be flown back to Mumbai the same night.

Bangali, who has a criminal history and served a term at a juvenile home, was the most crucial arrest, the police said. On the run, he threw away three SIM cards, knowing the police could be tracking him. With just Rs. 900 in his pocket, he went to a gambling den but lost it all, and was forced to hide out at the hospital.

His luck ran out after the police, acting on a tip-off about his visit to the gambling den, started searching nearby theatres, railway yards and eventually the hospital, where they found him sleeping.

The crime branch, in its remand application to a holiday court, said the gang of five made the 22-year-old clean up the spot at the deserted Shakti Mills after they raped her, so as not to leave behind any evidence.

After making her put on her clothes, two of them took her photograph and threatened to kill her if she told anyone.

No photos or video clips were taken during the rape, the application said. The crime branch has already started questioning the accused, not just about Thursday's gang rape but also about past cases.

Blood samples will be taken and an identification parade is also being planned.

The journalist, currently undergoing treatment at Jaslok Hospital, is said to be stable and recovering well.

On Sunday, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said a fast-track court would hear the case. He also said the government has requested special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam (of Ajmal Kasab fame) to take up the prosecution's case.

Chavan said he has met with the survivor's mother and promised her all possible help from the state.

The photojournalist, who was gangraped on Thursday at an isolated spot inside Shakti Mills Compound where she had gone with a male colleague for an assignment, is recovering well and is likely to remain at Jaslok hospital for two to three more days.

In a statement released to the media on Sunday, the survivor's mother requested that their privacy be respected. "We hope and pray for your continued support and campaign in the fight for justice for my daughter and women at large in India," the statement said.

(Inputs from HT Correspondents, Delhi)

 


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