He was always good at dancing. A little over 17 and still in Class X, his father said he loved dance so much that he started three academies. And according to police, he was willing to kill for it, too. Twice. A 13-year-old boy last September, a 68-year-old woman this week.
Today, he could well be the first ever accused in Delhi to be tried under the new juvenile Act that treats those above 16 as adults in the case of heinous crimes. “We will submit an application to the Juvenile Justice Board, requesting them to consider the provisions of the new law inducted this year,” Surender Kumar, Additional DCP, Delhi Police told The Indian Express.
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It was on September 16 last year that the teenager and another juvenile girl kidnapped Swapnesh Gupta, on the pretext of taking him to a dance programme, and hid in Uttarakhand. They stayed at a friend’s house for a night, but feared police action and allegedly decided to kill the boy.
Police sources said they allegedly strangled him with a belt in Ranikhet, pushed the body off a cliff and returned to Delhi on September 18. The duo was apprehended on September 24, 2015 and sent to a correction home. Both were released in November, police said.
Barely four months later, police sources said the juvenile allegedly killed again for the same reason — to become a dancer and participate in reality TV shows.
He practiced dance for at least two hours a day in Lodhi Colony and that’s where he identified his victim, Mithilesh Jain. “The suspect’s mother worked in Jain’s house as a domestic help four years ago and his father worked as an electrician in the house. The juvenile used this familiarity to get close to the victim,” said DCP (south) Premnath.
According to police, the juvenile went to Jain’s house on January 31 and asked for water. “She let him in and went into the kitchen. He followed and when her back was turned, hit her on the head with a large vessel. She fell down and started screaming, so he smothered her with his hands and killed her,” said a police source. Her body was found the next day.
Police believe the juvenile wanted a sophisticated mobile phone, which he could use to practice his dance moves. He allegedly left Jain’s home that day with two mobile phones, an iPad and Rs 7,000 in cash, police said. Investigators said he also spent Rs 1,300 from the cash he robbed.
At the juvenile’s house in Faridabad, a sense of disquiet prevails. His father, who was at the police station a second time for the same reason, is stunned. “It will be better if I consume poison and die. I cannot believe my son was arrested again for murder,” he said.
The family was sleeping when the police came for the juvenile. “Last time, police called me to say he was arrested. This time, it happened in front of my eyes,” he said. His father earns Rs 1,000 a day and supports a family of five including three sons. His two sisters are married.
The father says he kept his son under his watch and even tried asking him about his earlier crime. “He always dodged my questions and said that he was innocent. Where did we go wrong?” he said.
According to the father, he tried to rebuild his son’s life. “I enrolled him in an open school for class 10 and was even planning to enroll him in a spoken English course. I wanted to make him a better person,” he said.
But he says his son was only interested in dance. “I had told him that big dreams of spending money and becoming a dancer had attracted him to commit a murder and advised him to forget it as we did not have the means to support him, but he still practiced two hours a day,” said the father.
Of his two other sons, one works under him while the other is a Class 9 student. The father added that he tried to involve the juvenile in his trade, but in vain. “Many have learned under me, but I could not make my son learn something,” he said.