With the arrest of the fifth and final suspect in Thursday’s gang rape that has shaken the entire nation, Mumbai police have done a credible job of nailing all the accused, after roughly 55 hours of non-stop search and investigations. Teams worked round the clock to crack the case in less than three days of the crime.
We retrace the sleuths’ steps, and some goof-ups, that nonetheless landed the suspects in the police net by Sunday morning.
Around 8 pm on Thursday, the N M Joshi Marg police station, Chinchpokli gets a call from Jaslok Hospital in Peddar Road about the gang rape.
A team rushes to the hospital to record statements of the girl and her colleague. A case is registered against five accused under IPC sections 34 (acts by several persons with common intention), 343 (wrongful confinement for three or more days), 341 (wrongful restraint), 376 (rape) and 506 (criminal intimidation).
Based on the descriptions given by the victims, police sketchers prepared drawings of the rapists. A team was sent to the spot to conduct a panchnama and make preliminary inquiries. Soon, top cops including Commissioner Dr Satyapal Singh, additional commissioner Pravin Salunkhe, deputy commissioners Satyanarayan Chaudhary and Vinayak Deshmukh arrived at the police station to supervise search operations and investigations.
With pressure mounting from journalists’ associations and women’s groups, 20 teams of Mumbai police were formed. “These teams comprised officers skilled in investigations, who know their way around Chinchpokli, and are aware of the preferred hideouts and know about the accused,” said an officer from Mumbai police.
A costly slip
By 11.30 that night, the Agripada police were informed, since most of the accused resided in slums in the area. “One of the constables, Mujuwar, saw the sketches of the accused and realised that one of them, Kasim Shaikh alias Bangali, a resident of Kalapani, Saat Rasta resembled the sketch.
Kasim had a criminal record and Mujuwar knew he spent time at the mill. He called up Kasim’s mobile and asked him to come to the police station for some personal work,” said an Agripada police officer. Kasim got suspicious and, late on Thursday night, went to Nair Hospital to sleep in the visitors’ room thinking it was the safest place.
Meanwhile, the commissioner asked all Crime Branch units and Mumbai police teams to step up probe operations.
Around midnight on Thursday, the Agripada police got confirmation that Kasim was spotted with a 10-year-old boy named Ganesh alias Komdi.
After questioning Ganesh, cops came to know of the involvement of the other four who were present at Shakti Mills at the time of the crime. The police found that three of the accused had criminal records -- Kasim Bangali (dacoity, assault on cop), Vijay Jadhav (housebreaking, theft) and Chand Sattar Sheikh (robbery).
“The boy gave us their names and addresses,” said the officer.
“He used to hang out with the big boys at the mill as they gave him food and money.”
Following information supplied by 10-year-old Ganesh about the whereabouts of Chand, a team from Agripada police station went to Chand’s house, arrested him from Dhobi Talao, Jai Bhavani Nagar, Saat Rasta, and handed him over to N M Joshi Marg police in the early hours of Friday. Chand admitted to the crime and gave more information about his accomplices.
Based on details given by Chand, cops got a clue about the possible whereabouts of Vijay Jadhav¸ a resident of Dhobi Talao area. Sleuths from Unit II of Crime Branch, led by Prashant Raje, obtained his call details records (CDR), traced those who had received calls from him and picked them up for inquiries.
“Vijay came to know something had gone wrong. In fact, that very night, he went to the N M Joshi Marg police station and had a cup of tea outside, just to keep a watch on the movement of the cops. He called up his friend, accused Mohammed Salim Ansari, and both of them spent the night at Macchimar Market in Currey Road. On Friday morning, the two watched Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge at Maratha Mandir,” said the police officer.
After the movie, the two split and Salim left for his house in Chembur. When he was about to reach home, a police team intercepted him. Not knowing he was one of the accused, the cops asked him his address, which alerted him and, scared, he boarded a local to Kalyan and from there boarded a train for Delhi.
Vijay, on the other hand, went to a video parlour in Madanpura area of Nagpada to watch adult movies.
A police informer (name withheld) who knew Vijay, alerted the Crime Branch and took them to the parlour from where he was arrested late on Friday night.
The Crime Branch then dropped khabri to his house and told him they would be back on Saturday morning. Before the cops could reach him the next morning, he was picked up by a team from Dadar police station, headed by police sub-inspector Anant Jadhav, who had earlier served in Agripada police station and knew the area well.
The cops asked the informer about the other accused. He told them that he was in touch with Siraj Rehman Khan (24), a resident of Dhobi Talao, who was holed up at his sister’s place in Mumbra. “Siraj was picked up from Mumbra while he was still making his way to his sister’s place,” said PSI Jadhav.
Though the police had made three arrests, main accused and mastermind Kasim Sheikh alias Bangali was still at large.
Unit III of Crime Branch, which had not succeeded in any of its attempts to nab him, learnt that he was in touch with his mother, who was closely watching the news on TV and supplying him information about developments in the case.
“We then picked up Kasim’s mother. Soon, Kasim gave her a call. He was hiding on the fourth floor of Nair Hospital. He would sleep there, and have food outside or at his friend’s house, as he was short of money,” said the police officer.
The hospital was Kasim’s regular hiding place whenever he wanted to go under the radar, as he had several cases of theft registered against him. He was picked up from there. Late on Saturday, Kasim admitted to the crime.
Unit VI of Crime Branch had detained family members of Mohammed Salim Ansari, a resident of MHADA Colony in Chembur.
However, they could not provide any concrete leads and were released eventually. Salim even visited his house on Friday. Cops made a grievous blunder – they accosted Salim on the streets and asked him for directions to his own address. Alerted, he fled immediately to Delhi.
Meanwhile, Unit II of Crime Branch picked up some close relatives of Ansari, and one of them got a call from Ansari saying that he was heading to
Delhi to a distant relative’s house.
“We immediately sent a team and nabbed Ansari from Delhi. He is on his way to Mumbai,” said the officer.
Thus, by Sunday morning, the final suspect was in the Mumbai police’s net.
Cops chased away the suspects from Nariman Point
The arrested men have confessed that after committing the crime they retreated to the Mahalaxmi residence belonging to one them. Three of them kept watch over the activities of Unit II of Crime Branch. Later, they headed towards Nariman Point by taxi, and stood near Oberoi Hotel. Two friends met them, and the accused told them about something bad having happened at Shakti Mills compound. Around 2.30 am, some local policemen saw them squatting and told them to leave.