20 police teams worked together on leads to ensure that the four adults and one minor accused of raping the photojournalist at Shakti Mills compound were nabbed at the earliest
Mumbai: The combined forces of Mumbai Crime Branch, Agripada police, and Dadar police arrested all the accused involved in the August 22 gang rape within 55 hours of the crime.
The case was registered on August 22 at 8 pm after a call from Jaslok Hospital reported that a survivor of gang rape had been admitted to the hospital. The police reached the spot, and with the help of the woman’s colleague, got sketches prepared.
A case was registered under several sections of the IPC. Soon, the then Police Commissioner Dr Satyapal Singh, Additional Commissioner Pravin Salunkhe, Deputy Commissioners Satyanarayan Chaudhary and Vinayak Deshmukh arrived at the NM Joshi Marg police station to supervise search operations and investigations.
With pressure mounting from journalists’ associations and women’s groups, 20 police teams were formed. “These teams included officers skilled in investigations, who knew their way around Chinchpokli, and were aware of the preferred hideouts of the accused,” said an officer.
A costly slip
By 11.30 pm on Thursday, the Agripada police were informed of the gang rape, since most of the accused resided in slums in their jurisdiction. “One of the constables, Mujawar, saw the sketches of the accused and realised that one of them, Qasim Shaikh alias Bangali, a resident of Saat Rasta, resembled the sketch.
Qasim had a criminal record and Mujawar knew he spent time at the mill. He called up Qasim and summoned him to the police station. On his guard, Qasim fled and spent the night at Nair Hospital.
The missing link
Around midnight, the Agripada police got confirmation that Qasim had been spotted with a 10-year-old boy named Ganesh. From Ganesh, cops came to know of other four who were present at Shakti Mills at the time of the crime. They found that three of the accused had criminal records. Ganesh gave the cops their names and addresses.
First arrest: Minor boy
A team from Agripada police station headed by SI Sunil Pawar went to the minor’s house, arrested him from Dhobi Talao, and handed him over to N M Joshi Marg police. He admitted to the crime and gave information on his accomplices.
Second arrest: Vijay Jadhav
From Ganesh, cops found out that Jadhav lived in Dhobi Talao. Sleuths led by Prashant Raje, obtained his call records, and picked up people who had received calls from him. Aware that cops were on his tail, Jadhav went to the N M Joshi Marg police station that night and had chai outside, to keep a watch on the movement of the cops.
He called up his accomplice 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. After the film, Jadhav went to a video parlour in Madanpura to watch pornographic films. A police informer led the cops to this parlour, from where he was picked up.
Third arrest: Siraj Rehman
Dadar police picked up the same informant, who revealed that Siraj Rehman Khan (24), a resident of Dhobi Talao, 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.
Fourth arrest: Qasim Bangali
Unit III of Crime Branch learnt that he was in touch with his mother, who was watching the news on TV and supplying him information. They picked up Qasim’s mother. Soon, Qasim 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. The hospital was Qasim’s regular hideout whenever he wanted to go under the radar. A day after his arrest, Qasim admitted to the crime.
Fifth arrest: Salim Ansari
After watching the film at Maratha Mandir, Salim left for his house in Chembur. Cops who were searching for Salim chanced upon him on the road and asked him for directions to his own house, not knowing that it was Salim himself they were speaking to. Alerted, Salim boarded a local to Kalyan and from there, boarded a train 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. A team was dispatched to Delhi and Salim was nabbed.
Sixth and seventh arrests: Ashfaque Shaikh and a minor
Ashfaque Shaikh, accused in the gang rape of the telephone operator on July 31, was arrested from Girgaum Chowpatty on September 15, after the survivor registered the case on September 3. The minor was also accused in the case was later arrested from his house.
>> Ten year old boy gave the police the names and address of most accused
>> Mumbai Crime Branch, Agripada police, and Dadar police joined forces to nab the accused
>> Cops inadvertently alerted two accused during their investigations, prompting them to flee, and delaying the manhunt somewhat