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Mumbai woman, raped and tortured inside commercial vehicle, dies; Thackeray assures ‘strictest punishment’

Mumbai woman, raped and tortured inside commercial vehicle, dies; Thackeray assures 'strictest punishment'

A 32-year-old woman died on Saturday after being sexually assaulted in Saki Naka area on Friday morning.

The incident came to light at around 3.20 am on Friday, when a watchman employed with a cardboard manufacturing company called the police control room. He reported that a woman was being assaulted by a man inside a commercial vehicle near the factory.

“Personnel from the Saki Naka police station reached the spot within ten minutes and found the victim with serious injuries, in the back of the tempo. Due to the nature of the injuries, the personnel who responded to the call took a decision on the spot. They obtained the keys of the tempo with the watchman’s help and drove it straight to the Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar, where the victim was admitted in an unconscious condition. Treatment was started right away,” Hemant Nagrale, Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, said at a press conference on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Saki Naka police registered a case of rape and attempt to murder against unknown persons and initiated inquiries into the matter. The Crime Branch Unit 10, which has jurisdiction over the Saki Naka area, was also instructed to conduct a parallel investigation into the case.

Based on the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage, the investigation team zeroed in on a suspect, who was seen leaving the spot. The suspect, identified as 45-year-old Mohan Chauhan, was arrested on Saturday.

An officer, who is part of the investigation, said Chauhan is a Kurla resident and does odd jobs for a living.

Chauhan allegedly pulled the victim – mother of two – into the commercial vehicle and tortured her with an iron rod, inflicting severe injuries to her torso as well as her private parts, officials said.

The victim, after battling death for over 24 hours, succumbed to her extensive injuries on Saturday morning. The police have subsequently added the section for murder under the Indian Penal Code to the FIR.

“A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been set up, and Assistant Commissioner of Police Jyotsna Rasam has been appointed as the Investigating Officer of the case. The investigation will be completed within a month and a charge sheet will be filed against the accused,” Nagrale added.

He added that the exact sequence of events is still being ascertained, as a statement could not be recorded from the victim before she died.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has announced that the case would be tried in a fast track court.

“The incident is a crime against humanity and the accused will get the strictest possible punishment. I have spoken with the State Home Minister in this regard as well as with the Mumbai Police Commissioner,” Thackeray said in a statement issued on Saturday.

The incident also attracted severe criticism from the Opposition.

Chitra Kishor Wagh, Vice President, Bharatiya Janata Party, Maharashtra, lashed out at the state’s coalition government.

“We beg for forgiveness from our deceased sister for not being able to save her. This government could not be any less bothered and her death is a mere statistic for them, I can not begin to imagine what pain she must have gone through,” Wagh said.

The National Commissioner for Women (NCW), too, has taken suo motu cognisance of the incident and asked the Mumbai Police to arrest “all the accused” in the case.

Nagrale, however, stated that only Chauhan was responsible for the act.

“We, too, had started inquiries with the possibility of more than one accused being involved in mind and section 34 of the IPC (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) was included in the FIR for this very reason. However, CCTV footage clearly shows that only the arrested accused was behind the crime,” he said.

Chauhan was produced in court on Saturday afternoon and remanded in police custody till September 21. Further investigations against him are underway, officials said.

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