Shakti Mill, where the photojournalist was gang-raped on Thursday, is an abandoned, decrepit structure on a vacant plot covered with tall weeds and old trees. It is part of the rapidly gentrifying areas of Central Mumbai where old mills have given way to high-rises. With the exodus of old, vibrant working class communities and acres of vacant land under construction, many feel the area has become more vulnerable to lumpen elements.
The mill is close to Famous Studios, once an advertising hub. The lane outside it is packed with offices — a railway storage, chartered accountants and upmarket furniture shops.
Women office-goers from the lane opposite the mill are apprehensive. Raksha Shetty (43), who has been working at a chartered accountant’s office opposite the mill, says she often has to stay beyond 8 p.m. in the office. “This lane does get deserted at night and we are escorted to the station by the office peon,” she said.
“I can’t believe something like this has happened here,” says Usha Bansode (26), who works in a rubber factory. Ms. Bansode, who is from Baramati, says, “I have always felt safe in Maharashtra and safest in Mumbai.”
Locals say the mill has become a den for vagrants who are a nuisance in the locality. “Goons have been coming here and playing cards all day. The police didn’t do much to get them out of here,” alleged Milind More, who works in a firm just opposite the mill.