The Mumbai Police claim to have arrested one of the five men who allegedly raped a 22-year-old photojournalist on Thursday, as the city and country erupted in anger over the incident that stirred memories of the Delhi gang-rape.
The state government has said the case will be fast-tracked and offered services of Ujjwal Nikam as the lawyer to fight the woman's case.
Out on an assignment, the photojournalist was raped in a deserted textile mill in central Mumbai after the five men beat up and tied her male colleague .
The woman and her colleague were doing a photo-shoot at the compound between 6 and 6.30pm when they were accosted by two suspects. They questioned the duo about their presence on the railway property and were soon joined by their accomplices.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh said 20 police teams, including 10 from the crime branch, are tracking the four suspects.
"We have arrested one of the suspects who has named the others involved in the incident. The suspect has also confessed to the crime," Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh said.
"The police prepared sketches based on the statement of the victim and the witness and made an arrest," Singh said.
Chand Abdul Sattar who lives at Dhobi Ghat, close to the mill, was arrested Friday afternoon. Twenty teams were looking for his four accomplices, all of who had been identified and were aged between 18 and 20, Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh said.
VIDEO: 20 teams formed to catch culprits
The five men, all school dropouts, were jobless and visited the mill often. Two even have robbery cases registered against them.
"Two of the accused offered to get the journalists' permission for the photo shoot," said Singh. Suddenly, one of the men turned towards the woman's colleague and accused him of being involved in a murder that took place in the mill some time back.
"Under the pretext of conducting an inquiry, they separated them," said Singh.
Three men escorted the male journalist away and tied him up, threatening him with glass shards that were lying round. They slapped him and told him to keep quite. The remaining two overpowered the woman. All of the five took turns to rape her and then fled, Singh said.
Two hours later, the woman and her colleague managed to reach the Jaslok Hospital and the police were informed at around 8pm.
In a chilling reminder of the horrific December gang-rape case in Delhi last year, the woman's colleague was badly beaten up and tied by the perpetrators before she was raped. The victim has been admitted to Jaslok Hospital. Preliminary reports suggested that she sustained multiple internal injuries.
"She has been under treatment since last night. She underwent a minor surgical procedure today (Friday) and now her condition has improved and stabilized. We expect a speedy recovery," said a spokesperson for the hospital.
The woman, who was wheeled in to the operation theatre for a minor investigative procedure on Friday morning, is stable. "She is stable but depressed," Jaslok Hospital's acting CEO Dr Taran Giachandani said.
After recording their statements, the police rounded up criminals and drug addicts of the area for questioning. By morning, the police had the sketches of the suspects ready.
The Centre sought a detailed report from the Mumbai Police as the issue reverberated inside and outside Parliament. Leaders across party lines condemned the crime and called for strict action against the perpetrators.
Journalists in Delhi and Mumbai held protest demonstrations and demanded a secure environment for women.
Maharashtra home minister RR Patil has said that if the family agrees, the state will provide Ujjwal Nikam as the lawyer to fight their case. He has also said that the case will be fast tracked.
"We are ready to appoint Nikam as a lawyer, but if the family wants anyone else, we are ready to extend that help.
The chargesheet will be filed within 7 days and case will be fast tracked," Patil said.
He also said if women journalists are going on dangerous assignments or in isolated places, police protection will be given. The incident has sparked outrage across the country including in the Parliament .
In Mumbai, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the incident was a blot on the fair image of the state and all efforts would be made to book the culprits. A protest was held at the Hutatma Chowk in south Mumbai on Friday by media and social organisations.
HT poll results: Photojournalist gang-raped- Is Mumbai going the Delhi way?
Hindustantimes.com conducted a poll asking readers if Mumbai is going the Delhi way after the gang-rape of the photojournalist. 72% agreed saying the city is growing to become as unsafe as Delhi for women. On the other hand, 21% said Mumbai still is the safest city for women and the rest 7% remained undecided.
(With inputs from agencies)
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