India Gang Rape Suspects Reportedly Feared by Neighbors

Police have arrested all five suspects in the alleged gang rape of a young photojournalist and severe beating of her male colleague in Mumbai, India. It turns out the suspects were reportedly feared in their neighborhoods.

On August 22, the two victims were in the isolated part of Mumbai's business hub when five men told them they could get them permission to shoot in an abandoned building. The men then accused the male colleague of taking part in a local crime, which he denied. They allegedly tied him up and took turns raping the woman.

The police arrested one suspect on Friday, and he gave them the names of the remaining four men. The last one, 27-year old Mohammed Salim Ansari, was arrested on Monday in New Dehli. His accused accomplices are between the ages of 18 and 24.

The suspects' neighbors spoke out and alleged the men were known for engaging in petty theft and drinking. The four younger ones were from the slums around Dhobi Ghat, which is the world's largest outdoor laundromat. From AFP:

"They were local criminals," said Ajit Pevekar, a 32-year-old neighbour and community worker.

Unlike the industrious washermen of Dhobi Ghat, three of the suspects known to Pevekar "had no regular work, were playing cards all the time, and all of them drank," he told AFP, adding that the men would regularly snatch people's chains or purses.

The police claimed all the suspects were unemployed school drop-outs and three of them did have records for theft. The Chief of Police also said the crime does not appear to be pre-planned and the suspects were not drunk. There was no mention if they were under the influence of drugs.

There have been many cases of sexual violence against women in India this past year. The first was a gang rape of a 23-year old on a bus in New Dehli last December. She died 13 days later. 


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