Shakti Mills, where the 22-year-old photojournalist was gangraped by five men, is an abandoned compound, partially hidden by overgrown, untamed weeds sprouting on all corners. According to locals, the spot, a stomping ground for local junkies, was frequented by the 5 accused.
Between the compound and nearby Lower Parel station exists a desolate railway yard and a few workshops. Needless to say, walking from the station to the area would, even in broad daylight, be a dangerous exercise. This is why locals were surprised to see the area teeming with cops on Saturday.
"The policemen are not regular visitors in here. However, when they would come, they would briefly scan the place without stepping down from their bikes," said Shivkumar Gupta, the lone resident in the approach lane.
Vishnu Gade, who works with a web portal that has an office in the approach lane, says he had once seen the five accused eyeing women in the lane. "After I saw the sketches in the newspapers, I recollected that I had seen them. There is a garage, located in the lane, near which these people would hang out and keep staring at women. The stretch from the main road to the Turf Estate building is specifically problematic. Few months ago, a group of boys tried to rob one of my colleagues there."
"After the fence wall adjoining the railway track gave away, the place got infested with more druggies and gamblers," said added Gupta.