They held a broken bottle over her neck and threatened that they would slash her if she dared to move. The band of five monsters then took turns to rape her.
When the ordeal was finally over, they took photographs of her, and threatened that the snapshots would find their way into the public eye if she dared to breathe a word against them. They even took her all the way to the railway tracks to see her off, ostensibly to make sure that she went straight home.
Her body broken and bleeding, the 22-year-old photographer decided that it was not time to go home yet -- she had things to do, and fast. She and her colleague promptly called their seniors, and took swift decisions in the conversations that followed. They turned around to head towards Jaslok Hospital at Peddar Road nearby. This brave decision, taken in a moment of unimaginable trauma, helped doctors to collect crucial evidence, which will hopefully help cops build a watertight case against her assailants.
“In a majority of rape cases, the victim usually does not go to the hospital directly. She either goes to the police station to lodge a complaint, where there is a delay owing to the time required to lodge an FIR. This results in the destruction of biological evidence. In other cases, the victim goes home and takes a bath, due to which the evidence is lost, making it virtually impossible to nab the accused,” said Dr Rajesh Dere, professor at the forensic department of Sion hospital. He added, “Since the victim headed directly to the hospital, the investigations can be carried out smoothly once samples of the victim’s clothes and swabs are sent for further evaluation.”
No way out
In her statement to the cops, the photographer, who is interning with a magazine, explained that she did not resist when the rapists cornered her because they held a broken bottle over her and threatened to kill her with it if she made any attempt to extricate herself.
“They took my photographs on their cell phones and threatened that if I spoke about the incident to anyone, they would defame me by revealing my identity,” said the woman in her statement to the NM Joshi Marg police.
The victim and her friend, both interns at the magazine, had ventured into the abandoned Shakti Mills compound in Mahalaxmi on an assignment.
Two men who were present in the compound accosted them, asking whether they had permission for photography. A bizarre allegation followed. “One of the men accused the victim’s colleague of being involved in a murder that had taken place in the mill compound a few years ago,” said Police Commissioner Dr Satyapal Singh.
The two helpless colleagues were then separated. One of the assailants called more accomplices to the spot over the phone.
When all five had arrived, one of them proceeded to tie up the woman’s friend with a belt, while the others dragged her 15-20 feet away and proceeded to brutalise her.
A police officer from NM Joshi Marg said, “The victim was so traumatised by the group that she gave up without putting up a fight. After the rape, the accused took photographs of her on their phones and told her to keep her mouth shut. To ensure that she went straight home and not to the police station, the accused took the two to the railway tracks and asked them to board a train.”
But the brave woman had other plans. She was bleeding profusely when she walked into Jaslok Hospital to ask for treatment, and made sure she did not collapse before she had narrated the entire incident to the hospital staff, who immediately informed the police and ensured that a case of rape was registered. Not only did she give details of her ordeal to the cops, she also managed to recall the names of two of her assailants.
Dr Tarang Gianchandani, acting CEO and medical director of Jaslok Hospital, said that the victim arrived at the casualty section with her colleague at 8 pm on Thursday. “She was conscious at the time and was able to talk to the doctors. She also gave her statement to the cops after our doctors informed them about the incident.”
CM visits hospital
Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan met the gang rape victim’s mother at Jaslok Hospital last evening. The mother informed him that she is recovering well and will be discharged soon. Chavan is said to have assured the family that the culprits will be nabbed as soon as possible.