Hours after the Mumbai Police got a call from Jaslok Hospital bearing the news of a gang rape in the Shakti Mills Compound on August 22, a 13-year-old resident of Saat Rasta gave them their first break in the case — the full name and address of his good friend and neighbour, who happens to be the accused minor in the case.
Ignored: The boy lives in abject poverty with his mother in Dhobi Ghat. He has also dropped out of school since the incident. Pic/Atul Kamble
With this teenager’s help, the police managed to nab the minor boy, who in turn gave them names and addresses of his four adult accomplices, which led to their arrests. Seven months since, the teenager, who lives in grinding poverty, is still awaiting some form of acknowledgement or reward for the services he rendered to the police.
The teen was a student of Maratha Mandir School in Charni Road, but claims he had to leave school as he was being summoned to the Crime Branch office repeatedly
The teenager is a resident of the Dhobi Ghat area in Saat Rasta. Several other convicts in the case are also residents of the same area. Sketch artists Nitin Yadav and Mohmmad Siddiq Shaikh have been rewarded for their contribution to the crime-solving process. But there has been no word of praise yet for the boy who effectively led them to all the accused in the August 22 gang rape case.
The boy’s ailing mother, who has blood pressure problems and diabetes, gives finishing touches to machine-made tops for a living. Pics/Atul Kamble
On the evening of August 22, the minor accused called up his friend. “The minor accused gave him the shirt that had become soiled at the Shakti Mills compound and asked him to bring him another shirt from his grandmother,” said Sunil Pawar, sub-inspector with the Agripada police. “Several people in the residential area saw the two walk through the narrow lanes in the area,” said Pawar.
“The police approached me with a sketch. They knew my friend’s first name. I told them his full name and also showed them his address, but they did not find my friend at home. While I was speaking to them, I got a call from my friend, and the policemen asked me to put the phone on speaker, and ask him where he was.
He said he would be standing near the Rupesh Patil wine shop. The police then took me with them and nabbed my friend, and also took me along with them to the Agripada police station,” said the boy, speaking to mid-day in his small, cramped shanty.
“After that, I was called several times to the N M Joshi police station, and later to the Crime Branch office nearby. I was also taken to court and they asked if I knew Siraj Shaikh and my friend, I affirmed that I did,” said the boy. The boy’s father died when he was a child, and he now lives with his mother and his 16-year-old sister.
His ailing mother, who has blood pressure problems and diabetes, gives finishing touches to machine-made tops for a living. “I get the tops from a small manufacturing unit. I cut the top edges of around 200 tops in a day, for which I am paid Rs 400 a week.
I tell my son to study. But as the police were calling him continuously, he decided to drop out of school. I am afraid that the friendship of these boys may spoil him. We are very poor and hardly have food to eat,” she said. The boy was a student of Maratha Mandir School in Charni Road, but claims he had to leave school as he was being summoned to the Crime Branch office repeatedly.
“I now work in a club where I serve tea, water, cigarettes and liquor. They pay me R1,000 a month,” said the boy. “I used to roam with my friend who raped the girl in Shakti Mills. I knew they would steal railway properties, and money from drunkards and shops, but they used to give me food, and so I enjoyed their company.
I have been told that my friend, who is in Dongri children’s home, will return soon,” said the boy. “The boy helped us in the initial stages of the investigation. We had information that the boy was a friend of the minor accused and was last seen with him after the crime,” said Pawar.
Another man, Pramod Thomre, a porter by profession who had helped solve the case of Hyderbad techie Esther Anuhya’s murder, is also yet to receive his due from the government. While the police did call on him after mid-day reported on Thomre, he is yet to be rewarded for his help in cracking a case that kept the cops on their toes for 55 days.