“Mummy I am vanished” (sic), these were the first words told by the survivor of the Shakti Mills gang-rape case to her mother when she arrived at Jaslok hospital, hours after the incident.
“Ï was forcibly raped by five men. I don’t know their names, just their description.” On hearing her daughter’s words, the mother became inconsolable and had to be supported by the police in the hospital room. These tragic moments, narrated through the mother’s statement in the charge sheet filed by the police in court here on Thursday.
In her statement, the mother said it was her birthday that very day. “I had called my daughter to ask which restaurant we should go to but she disconnected. I called back but when my daughter answered she spoke in Hindi and said, Maa main theek hoon. I found this strange since never speaks Hindi with me. She always says, “Mummy I am busy. I got worried so I called again and asked,’'Baby what happened? Are you all right?' This time too she spoke in Hindi and said ‘Mummy main Mahalaxmi station pe hoon, theek hoon.’ I thought she might be really busy and didn’t bother her again.”
The 600-page charge sheet against the five accused in the case, including the juvenile offender was filed less than a month after the 22-year old photojournalist was gang-raped inside the abandoned Shakti Mill in Central Mumbai, an incident that outraged the country. It occurred shortly after she and her male colleague finished an assignment. He was tied up and threatened by the accused while she was dragged away and gang-raped, a short distance away.
The charge sheet against the four major accused was filed in Mumbai’s Esplanade Court. That against the 17 year-old juvenile offender was filed in the Court of Juvenile Justice. As reported first by The Hindu , the five accused — Vijay Jadhav ( 21) , Siraj Sheikh (24) , Qasim Sheikh alias Bengali (20) , Salim Ansari (27) and the 17-year old minor were charged under various sections of the IPC including gang-rape, criminal conspiracy, destruction of evidence and wrongful restraint.
The maximum punishment these charges attract is life imprisonment for the adult accused. The juvenile offender faces a maximum prison term of three years. The police relied on the statements of 86 witnesses including the victim’s mother. The police also recorded the statement of the victim under section 164 (5) of the Criminal Procedure Code. “This is the first case after the CrPC amendment that the statement of a victim has been recorded before a magistrate. This is to ensure that we don’t face any legal hurdles in the future if the victim is unavailable,” said Himanshu Roy, Joint Commissioner of Police (crime).
Besides the statement of the victim and her male friend, the police heavily relied on forensic and technical evidence. This includes 22 DNA samples of the 5 accused that were found on the victim’s clothes, her body and also on a ‘dupatta’ recovered from the scene of the crime. Mobile phone records, finger-prints on the broken beer bottle used to threaten the victim that have matched those of the accused were included in the charge sheet.
The police also attached laboratory reports of the soil samples found on the clothes of the accused and the victim. These have matched samples of the soil in Shakti Mills confirming their presence at the location. “The Kalina forensic science laboratory is recovering the photograph that was clicked by the accused on his phone to threaten the victim. The findings of this report will be submitted subsequently,” Mr. Roy added. The accused had threatened to upload the photo of the victim if she complained.
The matter has been hearing was adjourned to September 23.
“We hope that the courts hear this matter quickly and deliver their judgment fast. We have managed to submit the charge sheet in a record 28 days,” said Home Minister R. R. Patil.