Two More Arrests Made in Gang Rape in India

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MUMBAI -- The fourth and fifth suspects in the gang rape of a 22-year-old journalist have been arrested, the police here reported on Sunday, igniting new concerns about women's safety even in a city considered among India's most progressive.

The news filtered through the neighborhoods where the five men had been living, a patchwork of slums with buildings constructed of corrugated iron sheets and covered in blue tarpaulins, squeezed between neighborhoods with glass office towers and luxury apartment buildings.

Neighbors said the suspects were unemployed men who spent time drinking in the abandoned mill building where the attack occurred.

The journalist arrived at Shakti Mills at sunset on Thursday, planning to photograph the area for a magazine article about Mumbai's chawls, tenements for workers employed in the mills. A male colleague who accompanied her was beaten and tied up while the victim was taken to a nearby area and raped repeatedly.

The woman's family issued a statement on Sunday, saying they hoped that the attackers would be given the "severest of punishment" so that "even the most sick-minded would think twice before they act in such an inhuman and insensitive way."

The crime was also being avidly discussed in Jai Bhavani Nagar and Madanpura, among the city's oldest and most densely populated slums, whose residents earn money selling vegetables or bangles or sorting garbage. Aside from relatives, it was difficult to find anyone willing to defend the suspects.

"He deserves what he gets," said Mohammed Mumtaz, who lives next door to one suspect. "If he raped someone, he should be killed. If he even tried to look at a girl in our neighborhood with those intentions, we would not have spared him."

Sharnabai Sheikh, whose grandson, Chand Hussain Sheikh, was the first to be arrested, said that on the day of the attack, Mr. Sheikh received a call on his cellphone at 5:30 p.m. -- just before the rape was reported to have taken place -- and took off abruptly, leaving his cup of tea half full.

When he came back three hours later, she said, he was shivering and feverish, so she gave him medicine and put him to bed after dinner. But he emerged later and told her he was scared.

"He said his friends had done something to a girl and she had been lying unconscious in Shakti Mills," she said. "He never lies to me -- his friends have committed the crime and blamed him."

She showed his birth certificate, which she said would testify that he was 16 and a minor, and could help him get a lighter sentence if he was convicted. "He didn't do it," she said. "He couldn't do something like this."

Mr. Sheikh, who was arrested on Friday, confessed to the crime and named the other men involved, according to the police.

Another suspect -- Mohammed Kasim Sheikh, an 18-year-old who is also known as Kasim Bangali -- also returned home shortly after the crime was said to have taken place, said his mother, Chandbibi Sheikh.

She said he returned home around 9 p.m. on Thursday and was eating dinner when he got a call summoning him to the police station.

"He got scared and ran," she said. "His mobile has been switched off ever since."

Late Saturday, the police found him near a railway station and arrested him.

Earlier Saturday, the police arrested men they identified as Vijay Jadhav and Siraj Rehman Khan. The fifth suspect, Salim Ansari, was arrested in New Delhi on Sunday.

Mr. Jadhav, 19, has been living in a central Mumbai road where gutters overrun during the monsoon season and fill the street with sewage water. Women wash their vessels outside their houses while their children play nearby. Neighbors said that Mr. Jadhav's family had left the area when their house was razed as part of a slum redevelopment plan, but that he had remained behind, unemployed, and could often be spotted sleeping on the streets.

"He had left school many years ago, but then this year he said he wanted to study and enrolled in night school," said Rajesh Patil, who lives in the neighborhood and said he ran into Mr. Jadhav frequently. "Of course, now all of that is over for him."

Mansi Choksi contributed reporting from Mumbai, and Ellen Barry from New Delhi.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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