Two years after the murder of a woman that sent shivers down the spine of residents in Vadodara, police are yet to get any clue on the culprits. Legs, torso and left hand of the victim and a strand of hair of the suspected murderer, is all that the police have in the two-year-old case that is still undetected.
On June 13, 2017, the Bapod police was informed by the police control room about a suspicious bag found in an open space in Ajwa road area of the city with foul smell emanating from it. Bapod police team reached the spot and found the legs, torso and left hand of a woman wrapped in a cloth and stuffed inside the black bag. The head and right hand were missing.
Police took suo motu cognisance and registered a case under IPC sections 302 (murder) and 201 (Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) against an unknown accused. Two years on, police are yet to establish her identity and trace the missing body parts of the victim.
Police inspected the area with the help of dog squad but could not get any clues. An A-summary report was submitted at the court by the police on November 27, 2017, but the investigation made no headway. AV Parmar, former inspector of Bapod police station, who was the first investigating officer in the case said, “Because the woman could not be identified, narrowing down on any suspect became difficult. Her head and right arm were missing, which would have been done purposely to hide her identity. We suspected that there could have been a birth mark or some identity mark on her right arm as well. There were no other identification marks on the body of the victim, which could give us a clue.”
“The proximity of the site from where the bag was recovered to the highway also suggested that could be the woman belonged to some other place and was killed and dumped here. But we could not get any leads in that direction,” Parmar said and added, “There were no signs of sexual assault.”
After his transfer in late 2017, two investigating officers were changed in the case. The present incharge of Bapod police station, TR Bamaniya, said the case has been transferred to the Crime Branch while the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Crime Branch, Jaydee-psinh Jadeja, said that they have not taken over the investigation officially from the police station yet. The police largely remained clueless about the current state of the case and the investigating officer in the case.
The investigating officer who took over after Parmar, FK Jogal, said, “There were no clues in the case left by the previous IO to take the case forward, so we could not proceed further.”
TR Bamaniya, who was transferred to the police station three months ago, said, “Scanning CCTV footage of societies and offices around the area and within a 4-km stretch on the express way that lies close by the place yielded no results. The investigation that followed kick-started with narrowing down on all missing woman complaints in police stations in the previous five days, and trying to match the description with that of the body parts of the victim. Police was looking for a woman, fair complexion, 30 years of age and no birthmark or peculiar mark or tattoo on the legs, torso and left hand.”
Details of crime
According to police records and the summary report accessed by The Indian Express, the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) report suggested that the woman was around 30 years old and fair in complexion. She was killed between 24 to 72 hours prior to the postmortem, that is between June 11 and June 13, 2017. The reported said there was no trace of poison in the woman’s body and she was killed using a sharp object. The report further said there was a wound on the back of her neck and on the right side of her chest. Her hands were chopped off before she was murdered while her legs and head were chopped off after she died, the report said.
A strand of hair was recovered from her skin on the stomach, which is suspected to be that of the murderer. The hair has been preserved for DNA test when the police narrow down on any suspect. A sample of the victim’s DNA as well as her fingerprints have also been preserved for further investigation. There was no mention of whether the woman was sexually exploited or not. There were no birth mark or sign of identification on the body parts of the woman that remained which could give police a lead.
The police station however, did not share a copy of the final postmortem report and claimed to not have a copy, while the hospital claimed that they did not have the original copy of the postmortem either.
As per the documents accessed by The Indian Express, police then started investigating the cases of family disputes, marital disputes and domestic violence. According to police, since no missing persons report was filed in the case, the investigators suspected that someone known to the woman and may be a family member would have committed the crime and that is why no missing persons report was filed in the case.
The summary report submitted in the court highlighted that the police also started rounding up people who migrated from other cities for work and investigated if they were accompanied by their wives or anyone else and their missing complaints were probably not filed in the city but elsewhere. For the month that followed, at least three people were rounded up everyday and questioned for any kind of leads but to no avail. Women tenants moved in around that time, gone out on vacation, came to the city on vacation or as a guest, were all investigated.
ACP, G division, PR Rathod, refused to comment stating that the case was no more under the jurisdiction of Bapod police. Incharge DCP of Zone 4, Sanjay Kharat said, “Since the woman was not identified, the case got stuck. But we will look into the matter again closely for any leads. The summary report in the case was submitted in the court as the murder is still undetected. If we find a clue we will start re-investigating the case.”
Senior police officials claim that in sensational cases, the first 24 hours of investigation are the most crucial. “In this case, it was the first 24 hours after the body was found. In almost all cases, the accused does leave behind a hint which can be traced within the first 24 hours. Delay in detection gives the criminal the time and space to cover up. We cannot negate the fact that many murders have been detected after days, months and even years of investigation. At times even while solving other crimes, we get clues to other undetected cases or a sudden breakthrough in the case,” said Sudhir Sinha, retired Gujarat cadre IPS officer of 1976 batch.
“Usually in such cases, missing persons report is the key. But at times, missing persons complaint are not filed, making it more challenging. With the advancement in technology, corroborating finger prints with Aadhaar details can help identify the victim. But this is not yet legal in our country except for some important cases. Until and the unless the victim is not identified, it is difficult to explore any theory as most of it would be assumptions without any concrete base,” Sinha added.
Crime Branch list
The Crime Branch of Vadodara police has formulated a list of seven undetected murders in the past two years, topped by this particular case. In no case apart from the above mentioned case, the victim is unidentified. “We have formed a list of the undetected murders. We are looking into them individually and studying the cases. We are yet to officially take over the investigation of the Bapod murder case where no clues were found. The main challenge is to identify the woman who was murdered,” Jadeja said.