OFFICERS of the Navi Mumbai Police Crime Branch claimed to have seized a written undertaking that 15-year-old Swapnil Sonawane was made to give at the Nerul police station a day before his murder on July 19.
Swapnil was allegedly murdered over an inter-caste relationship by the family of a girl he was in a relationship with.
A day before the murder, Swapnil was forcibly taken in an autorickshaw to Nerul police station. His mother Gauri was then summoned.
Gauri claimed that Swapnil was made to write a note on a white sheet of paper that he would not venture into the area where the girl resided, nor be in touch with her.
While seeking further custody of the 10 accused, including the girl’s parents, two brothers and two cousins, arrested in the case, the police said they have recovered the sheet of paper from one of the accused. Gauri also said the girl’s father, present at the police station, had also asked her son to write that nobody would be responsible if something were to happen to him.
The girl’s father reportedly relented after she questioned the need for such a statement. The policemen have taken handwriting samples of Swapnil from his home to match the letter with.
The crime branch officials further claimed before the court that they had also seized a motorbike used in the crime, Swapnil’s phone and memory card as well as a hard disk of the CCTV camera at SBOA Colony where Swapnil lived.
It showed that a group of men had entered the colony hours before the murder, ostensibly to threaten the family.
The proceedings for further remand were conducted in-camera at the Belapur court on a request made by both the accused and the prosecution. Swapnil’s father Shahaji, who was also present in court, was also asked to wait outside the courtroom.
“On behalf of the accused, I argued that the incident was not with an intention to commit the murder and that it was not a case of conspiracy,” said advocate Naveen Chomal, who represented the girl’s family.
The court allowed the police further custody of the accused till August 1 saying the murder of a minor showed the seriousness of the offence. The girl and two minors are in observation homes and will be produced before the Juvenile Justice Board next week.
The application by Swapnil’s family through advocate Amit Katarnaware, to video record the proceedings as it is an offence under Prevention of Atrocities Act, was disposed of.
Meanwhile, the police officials privy to the investigation said they had pieced together the events leading up to the murder.
A police official said on July 18, when Swapnil was assaulted and taken to Nerul police station, and on July 19, when he was murdered, some of the accused had been in an inebriated state. The official also said they had recorded the statements of the two police officials of Nerul police station.
A senior official said they would be consulting the legal department once the investigation nears completion to seek advice on action against the two.
The two police officials have been suspended for dereliction of duty for not taking the complaint of Swapnil’s family.