Zee Media Bureau
Mumbai: In the brutal gang-rape incident of a 23-year-old photojournalist here, Mumbai police on Saturday night arrested the third accused, as hunt for the other two absconding accused continued for the second day amid a massive public outrage.
The development came in, even as a court sent two other accused, including one arrested earlier in the day, to police custody till Aug 30.
The third accused, identified as Siraj Rehman, about 25-years-old, was nabbed from Mumbra area, police sources said.
Earlier today after the arrest of second accused Vijay Jadhav, the Mumbai police said that he has confessed to his crime.
Meanwhile, the first accused, Chand Babu Sattar Shaikh alias Mohammed Abdul (19), who was arrested within hours of the incident, was presented before the Bhoiwada Magistrate Court today around noon and his accomplice Vijay Jadhav was brought to the same court a few hours later.
To speed up the probe process, under fire from the opposition in the wake of the case, even Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil decided to personally supervise the case round the clock.
Patil even visited the NM Joshi Marg police station in the wee hours today to review the progress made in the investigations of this case, a police official said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has also promised all help to the victim’s family and to bear all the medical expenses.
Earlier, while seeking police custody of the two arrested suspects, public prosecutor said that the 22-year-old victim was still undergoing treatment in a hospital and the questioning of the two accused was required for tracing the other culprits.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh earlier announced that the second accused (Jadhav) had also been nabbed by a crime branch team from a video parlour in Madanpura in south Mumbai, where he was holed up since the incident.
"We have arrested a second accused in the case early today. He has also confessed to his involvement in the crime. The probe is in the right direction and we hope to nab the remaining three absconding accused soon," Singh told reporters in the afternoon.
He added that police had gathered lot of evidence against the accused and would file a comprehensive charge sheet in the case.
A delegation of around 15 women media persons called on Maharashtra Governor K. Sankaranarayanan to demand adequate safety for working women in the city.
The governor assured that he would take up the matter with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Railway Minister Malikarjun Kharge to ensure that women were safe while commuting in the suburban trains, Mumbai`s lifeline.
In the meeting with Sankaranarayan, the delegation members recounted instances of harassment suffered by the women while travelling on the streets or in the suburban trains.
"We have strong laws to protect the life and liberty of the citizens. What we need is effective implementation of these laws," the governor observed.
Police sources said that half a dozen teams had gone out of Mumbai to Thane and Raigad district to trace the absconding three accused in the gang-rape case.
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 thick undergrowth in the sprawling mill compound.
While Shaikh was the first to be nabbed within 18 hours of the incident, Jadhav was nabbed early Saturday.
Gang-rape accused a minor?
The family of the first accused arrested in the case said he is minor, a claim, if found true, could see him escape a stringent prison sentence and spend just three years at a correctional facility.
Sarnabai, the grandmother of Chand Babu Sattar Shaikh alias Mohammed Abdul, who was arrested yesterday, has produced a certificate before the police which showed his date of birth as February 26, 1997.
The police, however, claim Chand was aged about 19 and dubbed it as attempt by his family to save him. They also claimed Chand had tampered with the document to escape stricter punishment under the anti-rape law which provides for imprisonment of not less than seven years and may extend up to life.
Rape not the end of life: Victim
"Rape is not the end of life. I want strictest punishment for all the accused and want to join duty as early as possible".
This is the message the young photojournalist has sent out from her hospital bed to people who feel outraged at her gang-rape by five men at the abandoned Shakti Mills compound Thursday evening.
"She is recuperating from her injuries and trauma. She is still not completely out of trauma but she is composed," said Nirmala Samant Prabhawalkar, a member of the National Commission for Women who met the 22-year-old gang-rape victim convalescing at Jaslok Hospital.
With PTI/IANS inputs