Mumbai: A 22-year-old photojournalist is in hospital after being gang-raped by five people on Thursday evening at the dilapidated and isolated Shakti Mills compound in Lower Parel, south Mumbai.
Her condition is now described as stable by doctors attending to her at the Jaslok hospital.
The young woman, who works with a magazine in the city, was on assignment with a male colleague when she was assaulted at about 8 pm yesterday.
In details chillingly similar to the December gang-rape in Delhi, the woman and her friend have described in their statements to the police how two men accosted her, beat up and tied her colleague with a belt and then dragged her into a run down, abandoned building, where three other men joined them and gang-raped the young woman.
The attackers then fled the spot. The young woman and her colleague took an auto rickshaw to the Jaslok hospital four kilometres away and doctors called in the police.
Twenty people have been detained and the police have released sketches of five suspects based on the statements (Have you seen them?). The woman has reportedly said that two of her attackers called each other Rupesh and Sajid. Four of the men are believed to be in their early 20s and Mumbai's police commissioner Satyapal Singh said he suspected they were drug addicts.
Nine special teams of the Mumbai Police have been formed to investigate the case and the crime branch is carrying out a parallel probe.
The police are investigating whether the attackers fled in a train after raping the girl. The Shakti Mills compound is very close to the Mahalakshmi station on the western line.
Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil visited the young woman in hospital last night. He promised that those responsible would be arrested soon.
Mumbaikars say they are shocked that such an attack could happen in the middle of the city that they pride as safe for women. South Mumbai MP Milind Deora tweeted, "Mumbai Police must get to the bottom of yesterday's alleged rape and punish the guilty ASAP. Mumbai takes pride in being a safe city for women." (Mumbai shocked)
Last December, a 23-year-old medical student was brutally gang-raped by six men in a moving bus in Delhi. She died 13 days later. The horrific assault had provoked nation-wide protests and demands for better protection for women and more stringent laws against rape.