A 34-year-old woman, who was raped and brutalized with a rod by a man inside a stationary tempo in suburban Sakinaka area in Mumbai died during treatment at a hospital in the early hours of Saturday, police said.
The crime, which has a chilling similarity with the 2012 ‘Nirbhaya’ gang-rape case in Delhi, took place in the wee hours of Friday. The suspect, who had been arrested within a few hours of the incident, has now been charged with murder.
While the city police formed a Special Investigation Team to probe the incident, opposition BJP demanded capital punishment for the accused and questioned if women were safe in Maharashtra.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray termed the incident as a “blot on humanity”.
“The trial in the case will be held on a fast track and the victim, who succumbed to injuries today, will get justice,” he said in a statement. He has discussed the case with state Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil and Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale, Thackeray added.
The Sakinaka area in the western suburbs of Mumbai has several industrial units. According to police, accused Mohan Chouhan (45) worked as a driver and lived on the pavement in the same area.
Besides being raped, the victim was assaulted with an iron rod in her private parts and lost a lot of blood, a police official said. She had also been stabbed with a knife, he added.
Police Commissioner Nagrale told reporters that the crime came to light when the watchman of a company located on Khairani Road called the police control room and said that a man was seen thrashing a woman.
Police reached the spot within 10 minutes and found the victim inside a parked tempo. As her condition was serious, they decided to take her to hospital in the same vehicle to save time. They got the key of the tempo from the watchman and drove her to Rajawadi Hospital in suburban Ghatkopar, the commissioner said.
The police also obtained CCTV footage of the spot. A man seen leaving the tempo was identified as Mohan Chouhan, who hails from Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, the commissioner said.
He was arrested and produced before a court, which sent him in police custody till September 21, Nagrale said.
His blood-stained clothes were seized. They would be sent for forensic analysis to find out if it is the victim’s blood, the commissioner added.
A Special Investigation Team has been formed to conduct the probe, he said.
“Assistant Commissioner of Police Jyotsna Rasam will be the investigation officer. The probe will be completed within a month, and the case will be tried before a fast-track court as the chief minister announced,” the commissioner said.
“As the victim was unconscious, her statement could not be recorded. Therefore, police are as yet clueless about what exactly happened. But it will be ascertained during the investigation,” Nagrale said.
The probe, so far, has revealed the involvement of only one person in the crime, the commissioner said.
On Friday, the police had booked the accused under IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (rape), 323 (assault) and 34 (common intention). After the victim died, section 302 (murder) was added, while section 34 was dropped as the involvement of any other person in the crime has not come to light, a police release said.
Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly Devendra Fadnavis demanded that the Chief Minister meet the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and request him to hold the trial of the case in a fast-track court.
“I know that awarding a sentence is in the hands of the judiciary. But I feel the culprit in the Sakinaka rape (case) should be hanged to death,” the BJP leader said. Another BJP leader Pravin Darekar said the “onus” of the incident was entirely on the Shiv Sena-led state government “because there is no respect left for the law”.
State BJP Vice-President Chitra Wagh called for a new act on the lines of SC/ST Atrocities Act, so that the culprits involved in cases of atrocities against women do not get bail easily. She also pointed out that the state women’s commission has not had a chairperson for over a year. (PTI)