The Rape Suspect Who Slept on Sidewalks

Rape suspect

Police officers in plain clothes escorting one of the five suspects, center, in the gang rape of a photojournalist in Mumbai, Maharashtra on Monday.

MUMBAI —Not far from the abandoned mill where a 22 –year-old photojournalist was raped last week in Mumbai is a street lined with ramshackle structures built with corrugated iron sheets and covered in blue tarpaulin. Before his arrest on Saturday, Vijay Jadhav, 19, one of the five suspects in the case, lived here in a slum at Jivraj Ramji Boricha Marg in the Lower Parel neighborhood, where he was frequently found sleeping on the pavement.

The road is adjacent to the Arthur Road Jail and just across the street from Kasturba Hospital. In the monsoon downpour, the gutters overrun and sewage water fills the street in front of the peeling storefronts. In the narrow streets within the slum, women wash their vessels on the street while their children play nearby. Most of the men in the area clean houses and offices, while the women work part time as domestic help in the upscale apartment buildings coming up in the neighborhood.

There are small storefronts selling clothes, tires, chicken and vegetables. During a recent visit to the neighborhood, a game of cricket on the sidewalk was interrupted by a sudden downpour, and children huddled under the plastic sheets, hiding from the rain. A group of young men sporting jeans and listening to music from a mobile phone was loitering in front of a cigarette shop, smoking and chatting. Most of them have dropped out of school and work as cleaners, rag pickers or unskilled labor.

Like many of the families in this area, Mr. Jadhav’s home was demolished when Lokhandwala Construction redeveloped the settlement a few years ago. The building, which looms large over the settlement, is as yet incomplete….

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