A 34-year-old woman who was raped and assaulted with a rod by a man inside a stationary tempo in Sakinaka, a suburb of Mumbai, died on Saturday, police said.
The crime, which bore a chilling similarity to the 2012 ‘Nirbhaya’ gang-rape case, took place early on Friday.
The suspect, who was arrested within a few hours of the incident, has been charged with murder.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray termed the incident as a “blot on humanity”. “The trial will be fast-tracked and the victim, who succumbed to injuries today, will get justice,” he said.
Thackeray said he had discussed the case with Home Minister Dilip Walse-Patil and Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale.
The Sakinaka area in the western suburbs has several industrial units. According to the police, the accused, Mohan Chouhan, 45, worked as a driver and lived on the pavement in the same area.
Besides being raped, the victim woman was assaulted with an iron rod in her private parts and lost a lot of blood, a police official said. She had also been stabbed with a knife, he added.
Nagrale said the crime came to light when the watchman of a company on Khairani Road called the police control room and said that a man was seen attacking a woman.
The police reached the spot within 10 minutes and found the victim inside a tempo. As her condition was serious, they decided to take her to hospital in the same vehicle. They got the key of the tempo from the watchman and drove her to Rajawadi Hospital in Ghatkopar, the commissioner said.
The police also obtained CCTV footage from the area. A man was seen leaving the tempo, identified as Mohan Chouhan, who hails from Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, the commissioner said. He was arrested and produced before a court, which sent him in police custody till September 21, Nagrale said.
His blood-stained clothes will be sent for forensic analysis, the commissioner added.
“Assistant Commissioner of Police Jyotsna Rasam will be the investigation officer. The probe will be completed within a month, and the case will be tried before a fast-track court, as the chief minister announced,” Nagrale said.
“As the victim was unconscious, her statement could not be recorded. Therefore police are as yet clueless about what exactly happened. But it will be ascertained during the investigation.”
The probe so far has revealed the involvement of only one person in the crime.
On Friday the police booked the accused under IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (rape), 323 (assault) and 34 (common intention). After the victim died, section 302 (murder) was added, while section 34 was dropped as the involvement of any other person in the crime has not come to light, a police release said.
Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, demanded that the CM meet the chief justice of the Bombay High Court and request him to hold the trial in a fast-track court.
“I know that awarding a sentence is in the hands of the judiciary. But I feel the culprit in the Sakinaka rape should be hanged to death,” the BJP leader said.
Another BJP leader, Pravin Darekar, said the “onus” of the incident was entirely on the Shiv Sena-led government, “because there is no respect left for the law”.
The attack bears resemblance to the 2012 Nirbhaya case involving the rape and assault of a physiotherapy intern in New Delhi, which led to national and international outcry.
The 23-year-old was beaten, gang-raped and tortured in a private bus in which she was travelling with her male friend.
Four men – Akshay Thakur, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh – convicted of the gang rape and murder were hanged in 2020. One, Ram Singh, was found dead in jail in March 2013, having apparently taken his own life. A sixth attacker, who was 17 at the time of the incident, was released in 2015 after serving three years in a reform facility – the maximum term possible for a juvenile in India.