The gang rape of a 22-year-old housewife in Ganpat Patil Nagar on Monday night has made the women of the slum anxious about their safety. Some of them heard the victim’s screams while she was being raped, but did not help out of fear.
Despite several tea vendors, grocery stores, vegetable sellers in the area, the slum was engulfed by a surprising calm on Tuesday evening.
“They [the accused] are men of our own area. If they’ve done that to her, what are the chances that me or my daughter are safe?” said Tahira Khatun, a 45-year-old resident of the slum.
Asiya Mallik, the 35-year-old next-door neighbour of the victim, said that she had heard the woman cry for help when the accused barged into her house. “She was constantly shouting for help. It was 15 minutes of constant wailing. I wanted to go to help her, but my kids were alone at home with me, and my husband was still at work. I was petrified. I just pressed a pillow against my ear to fade out her cries,” said Mallik.
Mallik said that by the time her husband arrived and she mustered the courage to check on the victim, the police had already arrived.
Geetadevi Harijan, another neighbour of the victim, said that she heard the accused run from the house, laughing on their way out. “I did not know what they had done, but I knew that they had wronged someone. And I heard them laughing on their way out. I could not do much, I was inside my house and helpless,” 25-year-old Harijan said.
Besides, said Harijan, the slum was dark at the time of the incident. “I think they had pulled out the central fuse before they committed the act so that they could escape without being identified.”
Meanwhile, Asha Dantani, mother of one the accused, Harish, said her son is being framed. “My son was not even present at the time of the incident. The boys named him and he was pulled up. He has a wife and two children to look after. It is unthinkable that he would do something like this,” she said.