Nation outraged over Mumbai gang-rape; one accused nabbed, hunt on for four

Just days ahead of the first verdict in the shocking December 16 Delhi gang-rape, a gang-rape in the country’s financial capital has left the nation numbed and fuming.

Zee Media Bureau

Mumbai: Just days ahead of the first verdict in the shocking December 16 Delhi gang-rape, a gang-rape in the country’s financial capital has left the nation numbed and fuming.

In eerie similarity to the Delhi case, a young photojournalist was gang-raped inside a secluded mill in Mumbai late on Thursday, while her male friend was tied up by the five accused.

The city police on Friday arrested one of the suspects - a jobless youth – and launched a massive manhunt for the remaining four – the sketches of whom were prepared with the help of statements from both the victim and her male friend.

"We have arrested one of the accused who has named the others involved in the incident. The accused has also confessed to the crime," Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh told reporters today.

The Mumbai Police’s top brass has instituted over 20 teams, including 10 from the elite Crime Branch, to hunt for the culprits.

The city police chief declined to divulge identities of the accused lest the probe in the "extremely sensitive" case gets compromised but said two of them were history-sheeters with property related offences registered against them.

The 23-year-old girl, meanwhile, underwent a surgery today and is said to be stable. A spokesperson for the Jaslok Hospital, where the victim is admitted, said the girl was able to talk.

A police officer also described the girl - an intern with an English magazine – as "composed and stable".

Preliminary reports suggested the victim, who resides in western suburbs, sustained multiple internal injuries.

"The patient is with us after the unfortunate incident since last night. As of now, she is stable and Jaslok Hospital is doing its best," a statement from the hospital said.

"We cannot give you any further information keeping in mind patient confidentiality," said Dr Tarang Gianchandani, acting CEO and director (medical services) of Jaslok. "We are doing the needful... She is under strict observation."

Singh said medical examination of the victim was being done and a forensic team has also been pressed into service.

He said police are trying to gather "clinching evidence" to ensure that the culprits get maximum punishment for the "shocking crime".

Giving details of the incident, the officer said it took place around 6 last evening when the victim and her colleague went to the deserted Shakti Mills compound in Lower Parel area for taking photographs.

The accused approached them and one of them told the victim`s friend that he was responsible for a murder that had taken place in the area a few days ago. However, according to police, a murder took place on the spot two years ago.

When the victim`s colleague said he had visited the place for the first time, the accused phoned an accomplice, who arrived soon and said he also suspected that the woman`s colleague was the man who had committed the murder.

The accused then tied the hands of the victim`s colleague and took her to a nearby thicket on the pretext of "examining" her about the murder where they raped her one after the other.

The Police Commissioner said the two were not assaulted severely. "In fact, the two were showed way towards to main road. The accused did not snatch their belongings," an officer involved in the probe said.

The victim got admitted to the Jaslok Hospital at around 8.30 pm and the police was informed.

The incident triggered strong reactions from the Opposition parties which demanded the resignation of Home Minister RR Patil.

"If you can`t improve the law and order situation in Mumbai, you must resign," state BJP President Devendra Fadnavis said.

MNS chief Raj Thackeray also gunned for Patil and alleged that the NCP leader had proved to be a "complete failure" as Home Minister.

Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe said the government had failed to maintain law and order in the state, while NCP`s Vidya Chavan demanded stringent punishment for the culprits.

Meanwhile, Patil, who visited the hospital to enquire about the condition of the victim, expressed confidence that other perpetrators would also be nabbed soon.

"We have taken the incident very seriously. No one will be allowed to spoil the law and order situation," he said.

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, speaking to the media in Aurangabad, described it as a "highly condemnable crime" and said it would be ensured that accused are handed down "strictest" punishment.

Chavan, who later in the day visited the Jaslok Hospital and met the victim’s family members, promised all help to the victim’s family and to bear all the medical expenses.

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

Also, there was widespread condemnation from people of all walks of life -- on the streets, at railway stations and on social networking sites.

Journalists took to the streets to lodge protest over the gang-rape. Scribes from various streams, sporting black bands on their arms and mouths, gathered in large numbers at Hutatma Chowk in South Mumbai.

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

(With PTI inputs)