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Mumbai molestation case: 14 arrested
January 03, 2008 13:52 IST
Last Updated: January 04, 2008 04:03 IST
Fourteen people were arrested on Thursday for their alleged involvement in the shocking incident of molestation of two women on New Year's eve, outside a five star hotel in Juhu, a senior police official said.
All the 14 are adults. It was verified, on the basis of the photographs clicked of the incident, that four of the 14 arrested were among those who molested the women, Joint Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) K L Prasad told reporters.
"The four of them clearly were there. The rest were also there but claim that they did not molest the women," Prasad said, adding that the rest had been booked for unlawful assembly.
The two NRI women hailing from Gujarat, currently settled in the US, were accompanied by two men when they were groped and molested outside the hotel on New Year's eve.
Two photographers from a national daily, who were passing, managed to click photographs of the incident, leading to a public outcry.
Thirteen of those arrested are from a single group hailing from suburban Vile Parle and were picked up on the basis of information received from an individual, who identified them on the basis of the photographs published in various newspapers, police said.
The person who surrendered to the police is a resident of suburban Kandivali. He surrendered after seeing his picture in a local tabloid, Prasad said.
"However, one of those who has appeared prominently in the photographs, is not there among the 14," Prasad said, adding that the probe was on to find out whether another group of people was involved. He said that there could be some more arrests in the coming days.
"None of them have admitted to the molestation and some of them have even claimed that they were pushed on to the women by the crowd," he said. All the fourteen have studied up to class eight or nine and are either unemployed or doing petty jobs. The oldest of them is 27.
The thirteen accused had a party in their building, where they consumed alcohol, and then went for a walk near the hotel, Prasad said.
The accused had said that the women argued with 'someone' in the group and four of them had 'gone ahead', he said. The fourteen accused are likely to be produced before a local court where the police would seek their custody.
An identification parade will be conducted in order to strengthen the case, Prasad said, adding that the police will depend heavily upon circumstantial evidence and statements of witnesses, apart from photographic evidence, to nail the accused.
The photojournalists who documented the incident, the assistant commissioner of police (traffic) and the constable who helped rescue the women, will participate in the identification parade, he said.
"The victims have so far not agreed to lodge a complaint but we will pray to them to do so, so that those who have done injustice to them can be punished. They are returning to the US on January 10," Prasad said.
Earlier in the day, the police had announced a cash reward for anyone who could offer information about the suspects.