Free Press Journal

Shakti Mills rapes: Verdict to come March 20


Mumbai:  Barely seven months after a Mumbai woman journalist was gang-raped in the deserted Shakti Mills complex, a court here Saturday completed its hearing in the case and wil pronounce the verdict March 20.

The ruling by Principal Sessions Judge Shalini Phansalkar-Joshi will come in the sensational Aug 22 incident involving a woman photojournalist as well as the July 31 rape of a call centre employee in the same premises and by the same gang.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam and defence lawyers concluded arguments before Judge Phansalkar-Joshi, who set March 20 as the date of verdict for both the cases.

The first case pertains to a 23-year old photojournalist working as a trainee with an English magazine who was gang raped by five youths, including a minor where she and a male colleague had gone there for an assignment.

She had identified the accused – Ashfaq Sheikh, Kasim Hafiz Sheikh alias Kasim Bengali, Salim Ansari, Vijay Jadhav and a minor – in the incident which was often referred to as Mumbai version of the Delhi Dec 16 gang rape case.

In the second case, a 19-year old call centre employees was gang raped in the same premises July 31 and she recognized the perpetrators of the crime from the pictures flashed by police in the photojournalist case.

Three of the accused – Jadhav, Bengali and Rehman – were involved in both the cases.

The minor accused in the case is being tried separately in a juvenile court.

Following a nationwide uproar, the Mumbai police had nabbed the accused within three days after the Aug 22 incident and filed its 600-page plus charge sheet against them in less than four weeks after cracking the case.

Among other things, the accused were charged with offences of rape, conspiracy, common intention, unnatural sex, and sections of Information Technology Act as they had also made a video clip of the incident.

A few weeks after the incident, the Mumbai police and civic authorities had cleared the huge and desolate Shakti Mills complex of the dense undergrowth and beefed up security in the vicinity.

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