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Girl identifies teen Shakti Mills rapist

Mumbai, Sept. 4: The 19-year-old girl, allegedly raped by five persons at the same Shakti Mills compound three weeks before a similar assault on a photojournalist, today identified a 17-year-old as one of the culprits, police sources said.

She had previously identified three others, already arrested for being part of the group that brutalised the 22-year-old photojournalist on August 22.

The telephone operator working with a private company in Bhandup and her boyfriend were taken to the Dongri remand home for juveniles where a test identification parade was conducted in the presence of a magistrate. The girl managed to identify the minor, who was sent to the home after his arrest late last evening, as one of the five men who sexually assaulted her on the evening of July 31. One more suspect is absconding.

The girl lodged a police complaint on Monday evening alleging she had been dragged into the compound when she and her boyfriend were passing the deserted stretch. She said the three accused stopped them on the pretext of trespassing, and lured them into the compound where they were joined by two others. Her boyfriend was beaten and tied up with her dupatta and she was repeatedly raped.

With the rape reported nearly a month after it happened, police teams now face a stiff challenge of collecting evidence to nail the accused. With DNA-based evidence difficult to collect, officers said they are relying more on the circumstantial evidence.

Accordingly, the police recovered a dupatta of the teenager which was allegedly used by the accused to tie up her boyfriend. A torn shirt belonging to one of the five accused has also been recovered from the spot. “The shirt was torn when the boyfriend and one of the accused had a scuffle ,” a senior officer said.

The officer denied a news report that 10 women were sexually assaulted by this group of youths in the past six months using a similar modus operandi in the Shakti Mills compound. “Our investigations show that the group which made Shakti Mills compound their daily haunt is not larger than seven to eight people. The report that 10 women were sexually assaulted by this group over six months is incorrect. Our probe does not show more than three or four,” the officer said.

The girl said she was so traumatised by the experience that she fled Mumbai to Chhattisgarh where the couple stayed at a friend’s house, and returned to Mumbai on September 1. Her worried mother had lodged a missing complaint, but the family wanted to withdraw the complaint as the girl had returned home. When the police called her for a routine procedure, the girl broke down and revealed the gang rape.

The four accused arrested in the August 22 rape are likely to be produced before a metropolitan court tomorrow for further remand. Police sources said they are unlikely to press for their custody.