The Kalachowky police have got two witnesses, along with concrete evidence against the three accused who allegedly raped a 21-year-old woman in a stationary truck near Cotton Green station on Monday, claimed sources.
The three accused -- Salim Shaikh, 21, Rahul Mandal, 20, and Panchu Thakir, 22 – have been arrested. The two watchmen, who played a vital role in their arrests, are key witnesses. The police have also recovered the clothes they wore at the time of the incident and will send them for forensic analysis. The police have also recovered hair samples from the truck. They are in the process of collecting closed circuit television camera footage of Reay Road and Cotton Green railway stations.
The incident took place when the 21-year-old was waiting at Reay Road station on harbour line at 10.30pm on Monday. “Shaikh struck up a conversation with her by claiming he was an acquaintance. He told her he, too, was headed to Andheri and could accompany her,” said Shekhar Tawde, senior inspector, Kalachowky police station.
Shaikh boarded the train with the woman. “His two aides joined them. Shaikh then asked her to join them for tea at Cotton Green station, which she agreed to,” said Tawde. The trio took her to a secluded place -- a parking area of the Mumbai Port Trust – where hundreds of trucks are parked. The woman was forced inside the truck and was gang-raped. Two watchmen, who saw the woman alone with the youngsters, alerted the police patrolling team. Mandal and Thakir were arrested from the spot, while Salim, who managed to flee then, was arrested later.
According to the police, the survivor was allegedly threatened to get inside the truck. She was sent for medical examination on Tuesday morning. The police have sent the blood samples of the accused to check if they were under the influence of any narcotic substance or alcohol. The police have asked police stations in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai to check if the trio has a criminal past. The survivor’s statement will be recorded by a magistrate.