SANTOSHEE GULABKALI MISHRA
Murder victim Sandhya Singh’s brother Lalit Pandit, in his statement to the crime branch, has expressed suspicion on the way her husband Jaiprakash told him not to pursue the matter when he was meeting senior police officers in connection with her disappearance. Investigating officers also recall a similarly ‘disinterested’ attitude on Jaiprakash’s part when they were investigating the case.
Lalit’s statement, which is part of the 1400 page chargesheet filed by the crime branch in March this year, speaks about his interactions with Jaiprakash after Sandhya went missing. In the statement, Lalit has told the crime branch that when he was continuously following up on the progress of the investigation, Jaiprakash once told him, “Matter badhao mat, nahi toh beizzati hogi (Don’t pursue the matter too far, or else it might lead to disgrace). Lalit has further said that when he was meeting senior police officers in order to try and expedite the investigation, Jaiprakash told him, “Jo khud hoke gayi hogi, usko kya dhoondhna (Why look for someone who seems to have gone away of her own accord?”)
“I find such statements by Jaiprakash about his own wife suspicious. They seemed to indicate he did not want the case to be solved,” Lalit has said in his statement. Officers who interacted with Jaiprakash after the case was transferred to the Mumbai Police Crime Branch also recall certain pecularities in his behaviour. “When we took over the case, we found out that Jaiprakash, who was in Indore when Sandhya went missing, came to Navi Mumbai by train rather than by flight, which is a much longer journey. Also, when we were making inquiries with him, he told us more than once, ‘Wo nahi milegi sahab, yeh case open nahi hoga (She is not going to be found, this case is not going to be solved).’ We found his lack of interest and general attitude rather strange,” said a crime branch officer.
The crime branch has still kept the case open for further investigation, even though a chargesheet has been filed against Sandhya’s son Raghuveer. Senior officers said that the involvement of people other than Raghuveer, in covering up the crime if not in the actual offense, could not be denied.
(WITH INPUTS FROM GAUTAM S MENGLE)