Mumbai: Mumbai police on Saturday arrested the third accused in connection with the gang-rape of a 22-year-old photojournalist in the city, as the hunt for the other two absconding accused continued for the second day amid massive public outrage.
The third accused, identified as Siraj Rehman, about 25-years-old, was nabbed in Mumbra area late in the evening, police sources said.
He is likely to be produced before a magistrate on Sunday.
Earlier, Vijay Jadhav was arrested in the wee hours from Madanpura area by the elite Crime Branch personnel, who too have been engaged in the search for the culprits.
“The probe is heading in the right direction and we hope to arrest all other absconding accused soon,” city Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh said.
He said the investigators had gathered “all the evidence against the accused and we will file a comprehensive charge sheet soon.”
Jadhav and Chand Babu Sattar Shaikh alias Mohammed Abdul, who was arrested Friday, were produced before the Bhoiwada holiday court at Dadar which remanded them in police custody till August 30.
A woman photo-journalist with an English magazine and her colleague had gone on an assignment to the Shakti Mills Compound, Mahalaxmi in central Mumbai late Thursday when they were accosted by the five men.
They tied and assaulted the male colleague and gang-raped the woman in thick undergrowth in the sprawling mill compound.
There were protests outside the court premises by Shiv Sainiks and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) activists who shouted slogans against the accused.
Several women’s organisations took out a morcha against the brutal gang-rape at N M Joshi Marg police station.
Meanwhile, the hospital where the victim is undergoing treatment has said her condition was improving.
“The patient’s condition is much better today. However, we are monitoring her health from all aspects of care,” said a statement issued by Dr Tarang Gianchandani, acting CEO and Director, Medical Services, of Jaslok Hospital.
Lending a sense of urgency to the investigation and ongoing pursuit of other accused who are on the run, Home Minister R R Patil visited N M Joshi Marg police station around 2.30 AM.
According to police sources, he inquired about the status of the probe and also interacted with the two arrested accused, questioning them about their role in the incident.
According to the Mumbai daily Mid Day, the attackers threatened to slash the victim with a broken beer bottle. They also threatened to reveal her identity if she reported the incident, it reported.
The Times of India on Saturday quoted a statement by the victim from her hospital bed.
“I want no other woman in this city and country to go through such brutal physical humiliation,” she was quoted as saying. “The perpetrators should be punished severely as they have ruined my life.” Reuters was unable to independently verify the statements.
Himanshu Roy, Mumbai’s joint commissioner of police, declined to comment when contacted by telephone.
Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan told India’s NDTV news that the attack was “incredibly horrid”.
“This is a city that prides itself on women feeling secure — this (assault) breaches all social norms... something is going wrong with us,” he said.