Scrutiny of thousands of mobile calls led to the arrest of the accused in the case of kidnap and murder of Khushpreet Singh, a nursery student of Burail village. The incident had sparked widespread protests three years ago.
Police first arrested Sukhdev Singh which, in turn, led to his brother Gurvinder and their servant Nand Kishore. The two brothers were Khushpreet’s neighbours. On Tuesday, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Atul Kasana held the three accused guilty of the crime. They will be sentenced on April 18.
Interestingly, it was Inspector Uday Pal, then SHO of the Sector 34 police station, and DSP Vijay Kumar, then DSP (South), both of whom were suspended because of the disturbed law and order situation after the child’s death, who helped in cracking the case, said DSP Satbir Singh, who then held the charge of crime cell and cyber crime.
Khushpreet, 5, was kidnapped on December 21 while on way to his father’s grocery shop, which was a near his residence. The next day, the family received a ransom call. The same night, the family paid a rasom of Rs 4 lakh near Desumajra village, but the kidnappers did not hand over the child. On January 5, Khushpreet’s body was found in Mohali phase X.
The DSP said that after examining the dump data of the mobile towers of Burail and the place where Khushpreet’s body was found, police focussed on a number from which Khushpreet’s uncle Sukhwinder, who was a suspect initially, had received a sympathy call from a neighbour Sukhdev two hours after the first ransom call.
Strangely, no second call was made to Sukhwinder from this number even after Khushpreet was murdered. Sukhdev became a suspect for another reason as well: he had previously been involved in the murder of a women in Sector 32, the DSP said.
On checking, it was found that the number from which Sukhdev had called Khushpreet’s uncle actually belonged to a local barber. On questioning, the barber told the police that Sukhdev had been calling him from another number to get regular updates on the developments in the area. Police found that this number had been issued in the name of some other person.
Sukhdev was called for questioning and he broke down during interrogation. Sukhdev’s confession led the police to Gurvinder and Nand Kishore. Police also found that at the time of the five ransom calls, the location of Sukhdev’s mobile phone was close to the STD booths from where these were made, said DSP Satbir Singh.
Khushpreet’s father Lakhbir Singh said, “We did not believe the police when they told us that Sukhdev, Gurvinder and Nand Kishore had committed the crime. Our trust on the police was already shaken because they had failed to find our son safe. However, when the police explained to us how they zeroed down on these three, we were convinced.”
Sukhwinder had come under the police’s suspicion because the ransom calls were received on his mobile number. For this, Lakhbir had a simple explanation: “We had circulated his number to all those who wanted to order groceries from our store.”