The police have arrested all five suspects in connection with the gang-rape of a photo journalist in Mumbai last week, a case that has revived uncomfortable questions about women's safety in the country.
The manhunt for the five rapists of the Mumbai photojournalist took around 72 hours. Eighty police personnel — 20 teams — had to question as many people. And the field of the search extended from Mumbai to Delhi.
News of the attack on Thursday sparked street protests and uproar in parliament, a reaction reminiscent of the outcry that followed the rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December.
A woman photo-journalist with an English magazine and her colleague had gone on an assignment to the Shakti Mills Compound, Mahalaxmi in central Mumbai late Thursday when they were accosted by the five men.
They tied and assaulted the male colleague and gang-raped the woman in the mill compound.
The accused allegedly also shot pictures of the crime on mobile phones and threatened the victims with dire consequences if they complained to police.
The gang leader, Mohamed Kasim Hafiz Sheikh, alias Bangali, has told crime branch officials that the five of them have raped four women at Shakti Mills Compound in the past one year.
Mohammed Kasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bangali
Mohammed Kasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bangali – ring leader, was arrested at Mumbai Central railway station early Sunday.
"During his interrogation, Bangali told us that they [Bangali and his gang] had raped four rag pickers at the same spot where the 22-year-old was gangraped," said a Mumbai crime branch officer.
A Mumbai court sent both Hafiz Shaikh and Khan to police custody till Aug 30 for questioning.
Disgusted by the sordid details of the gang rape, Hafiz Shaikh's mother told the media at her home in Mumbai that the authorities and courts were free to hand out the most severe punishment to her son.
"He deserves strong punishment," said Chand Bibi in Agripada in south Mumbai.
"Bangali's gang would take advantage of this and target rag pickers," added the officer.
The accused, Kasim Bangali, was the oldest of the five accused and was the one who sexually assaulted the victim twice.
He was arrested from Nair Hospital where he was sleeping in a crowd of attendants.
Bangali, who has a criminal history and served a term at a juvenile home, was the most crucial arrest, the police said. On the run, he threw away three SIM cards, knowing the police could be tracking him. With just Rs. 900 in his pocket, he went to a gambling den but lost it all, and was forced to hide out at the hospital.
His luck ran out after the police, acting on a tip-off about his visit to the gambling den, started searching nearby theatres, railway yards and eventually the hospital, where they found him sleeping.
Mohammad Salim Ansari
Mohammad Salim Ansari, 27, was nabbed at Bharat Nagar in north Delhi, Delhi Police said. An official said four officials from Mumbai Crime Branch and a team of Delhi Police trapped Ansari.
Ansari was going to a relative's house when he was taken into custody.
A Hindustan Times report says that Ansari boarded a train to Delhi from Kurla, and in Delhi he took refuge at a relative's house where he was planning to flee the country.
He was taken to a hospital for medical check-up and presented before a duty magistrate before being taken to Mumbai.
The Delhi court granted Mumbai police his transit remand for 48 hours, after which he would have to be presented before a court.
Ansari is married and lives in Mahul villages in Chembur.
Chand Babu Sattar Shaikh alias Mohammed Abdul
The grandmother of Chand Babu Sattat Shaikh claims that he is 16 years of age, while reports suggest that the year in the birth certificate produced indicates vivid signs of tampering. Chand was the first to be arrested by the police. Once in police custody he sang like the proverbial canary, giving the cops leads to the other rapists.
Moreover, the Mumbai Police have maintained that Shaikh is not a juvenile and have said that police records indicate that he was 17 years old when he was booked, in 2011, for theft.
"We learnt Chand Abdul Sattar Shaikh had a case of theft registered against him at Agripada police station in 2011. Through our informers in the area, Shaikh was arrested from the Dhobi Ghat area at noon on Friday," said an officer from Agripada.
It provided the key break. Through Shaikh, police were able to establish the identities of the four other accused and a manhunt was launched to arrest them.
Initially he refused any involvement in the crime but soon broke down and admitted to participating in the ghastly act.
Siraj Rehman Khan alias Sirju
Locals told police that Siraj was part of a notorious gang and has a criminal past. A Hindustan Times report says that Sirju was involved in stealing metal from railway property and had no permanent location as he used to sleep on pavements of Dhobighat, even though mother wanted him to stay with her in Mumbra.
Hindustan Times quoted a local saying: 'Sirju did odd labour jobs in the area and was also involved in stealing, for which the police have arrested him in the past. He was also involved in taking drugs. Sirju and another accused used to often spend time together.'
There are also reports that say Sirju and his friends often frequented the Shakti Mill compound to smoke and drink.
The police caught up with Vijay Jadhav, alias Nanu, 18, at a video parlour in the Madanpura area of south Mumbai early on Saturday morning, by the Crime branch. He was reportedly hiding in a video parlour near his South Mumbai residence. The police got tipped off about Jadhav's where-abouts after they question his brother and his friend, reports Hindustan Times.
Jadhav has several cases of thefts against him at Tardeo police station. He was the second one to be arrested by the police in this case.