MUMBAI: The Mumbai police claim to have arrested five persons who gangraped a photojournalist and beat up her male colleague in a deserted mill compound in south central Mumbai on Thursday.
A senior Mumbai police official told Hindustan Times the five suspects were picked up on specific information on Friday morning from different places. “They all have criminal backgrounds,” the official said. He said the identification of the accused by the victim and her colleague, who was tied up and attacked by the accused, was "not necessary at this stage since we have sufficient evidence against them.”
The official, however, refused to give further details, saying it would be disclosed only after the accused were grilled. Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh is likely to make a formal announcement of the arrests at a press conference later in the afternoon.
Earlier, sketches of the five suspects were prepared on the basis of the description provided by the victim's male colleague, who was tied up by the accused before they assaulted the woman. The accused were apparently in 24 to 30 years age group.
The woman was allegedly gang-raped by five men at around 8pm on Thursday near Shakti Mills in Lower Parel area of the metropolis.
The victim was on an assignment, doing a story on 'chawl' when the offence took place, police said.
In a chilling reminder of the December gang-rape in Delhi, the men tied up the victim's friend and raped the woman.
Earlier, police said they had picked up about 20 people for questioning.
In a statement given to police, the girl said the five goons were present in the Shakti Mills compound. They started making lewd remarks and harassed her. When her friend intervened, two of them assaulted him. Three others took her inside the dilapidated structure and raped her.
"After the duo clicked photos for around half an hour, two youths emerged there and asked if they had valid permission for clicking photos. Then they offered to take them to the right authority, when three more joined the earlier two youths and in the process separated them. While the hand and legs of the male colleague were tied and he was gagged, the accused raped the girl," said Vinayak Deshmukh, deputy commissioner of police, Zone III.
The victim has been admitted to Jaslok Hospital. Preliminary reports suggested that she sustained multiple internal injuries, they said.
Dr Taran Gyanchandani, acting CEO of the hospital, said, "We are doing the needful...she is under strict observation." A gangrape case has been registered in NM Joshi Marg police station.
The statement of the victim's friend has been recorded, police said.
They claimed the victim has identified two of the accused by their names. She told police that two of them were calling each other as Rupesh and Sajid, they said, adding that some drug addicts have been picked up from the area for questioning.
Maharashtra home minister RR Patil had visited the victim at Jaslok hospital.
"This is a very serious matter. We have taken note of it. The accused will be arrested soon," Patil told reporters outside the hospital.
He said Mumbai Police commissioner Satyapal Singh has been directed to ensure that the culprits are arrested soon.