As the police made their final arrests in the Shakti Mill gang-rape case on Sunday, the photojournalist’s family thanked the public and the media for their support and appealed for privacy.
Responding to the media glare, the family said in a statement: “Please continue to respect the privacy of my daughter and me in this most trying time of our lives and give us the breathing space we so desperately need by not visiting our residence.”
Calling this a nightmarish phase, the family said it was determined to fight for justice for its daughter. “We hope and pray for your continued support and campaign in the fight for justice for my daughter and women at large in India. Now that stringent laws are in place, we are optimistic that your and the government’s efforts will help fast-track the matter so the severest of punishment is meted out. This will ensure that even the most sick-minded think twice before they act in such an inhuman and insensitive way.”
Mohammed Kasim Hafiz Shaikh alias Kasim Bengali, a resident of Agripada in central Mumbai, was arrested at Mumbai Central, while his accomplice Siraj Rehman Khan was arrested on Saturday night. Both were remanded in police custody by a special holiday court till August 30. Salim Ansari was arrested in Delhi on Sunday. On Saturday, the police arrested Vijay Jadhav alias Nanu and Siraj Rehman. The first accused, Chand Abdul Sattar Shaikh, was arrested on Friday.
Shaikh was said to be hiding at Nair Hospital in Mumbai. Ansari had fled to Delhi. Police sources said that after the incident Ansari first went to Govandi and then to Delhi by train from the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus. In Delhi, he was hiding in the house of one of his relatives, who had no knowledge of his crime.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has said the government will appoint Ujjwal Nikam, its lawyer in the 26/11 terror cases, as public prosecutor in the gang-rape case. “I have discussed this with him [Mr. Nikam]. We will get him in this case so that the culprits get severe punishment for the heinous crime they have committed.”
The remand copy speaks of repeated threats to the young woman before and after the crime. The accused threatened to kill her male colleague. Later, they forced her to clear the site and warned her of dire consequences if she spoke about the incident to anyone. They even claimed that they had photographed her and would make the photos public.