One held for shocking Mumbai gang rape, victim stable

Mumbai, Aug 23 (IANS) A 22-year old photo-journalist who was brutally gang-raped was in stable condition Friday while police arrested one of the five accused and were hunting for the others.

The sexual assault in a desolate textile mill compound Thursday evening, mirroring the horrific gang rape of December in Delhi, sparked outrage all over India and rocked both houses of parliament.

Moving swiftly, police arrested one of the suspects within hours of the incident and claimed to have identified the other four.

The victim, working for an English magazine, underwent a surgery at the Jaslok Hospital. Doctors said she was now recuperating but still in shock.

Based on the description of the criminals provided by the victim and her male colleague, police released sketches of the four on the run and set up 20 teams to nab them.

"We have arrested one of the accused who has confessed to the crime. He has named the others... We are hopeful of nabbing them soon," Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told the media.

The incident took place around 6.30 p.m. when the victim and her colleague were on a photo assignment and went to the sprawling ruins of Shakti Mills Compound near the Mahalaxmi railway station.

Recounting the incident, Singh said that initially two of the men confronted the woman and her friend, saying they had trespassed on railway property.

Later, they called the other three accomplices inside the factory ruins.

Claiming to question them, one of the men tied up the male colleague with a belt and took the woman around 20 feet away, behind a thick undergrowth.

There, the accused allegedly raped the woman, Singh said, adding that they were in their early 20s and lived near the desolate mill.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan promised all help to the victim's family and to bear all the medical expenses.

Under attack over rising crime in Mumbai, Home Minister R.R. Patil rushed to visit the victim in hospital.

As news of the incident spread Friday, there was widespread condemnation from people of all walks of life -- on the streets, at railway stations and on social networking sites.

Several media and social organisations, NGOs and pressure groups as well as the Mumbai Press Club protested at Hutatma Chowk seeking action against the culprits.

The opposition targeted the Maharashtra government over what they said was the rising insecurity in the state, especially for women.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and Samajwadi Party demanded Home Minister Patil's resignation.

Chavan dismissed the demand. In New Delhi, however, the central government sought a detailed report from the state government.

The issue figured prominently in the Rajya Sabha where BJP's Smriti Irani expressed outrage over the incident -- and got the prompt backing of members from across the political spectrum.

Jaslok Hospital said the victim underwent a surgical procedure for her injuries.

A spokesman said she was recovering well and her condition was stable. She could speak but remained in shock.

Officials said case would be handled by a fast track court.


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