Four years after a senior citizen was found dead in her home with her hands tied and gagged, a senior inspector of Navghar Police station says the case of the suspected murder of Laxmi Maruti Naik in Mulund is the only unsolved case at the police station.
After investigating for two years, he said, the police filed “a summary” report before a magistrate’s court, thus, classifying the case as true but undetected. The police said they took help of other police stations, but to no avail.
On April 16, 2014, Naik (70) was found dead in her kitchen. She used to live with her younger sister, Lillapa Naik, at Pragati Co-operative Housing Society in Mulund (East). Lillapa was out for work when the alleged murder took place. Kavita Katne, Naik’s grand-daughter told the police that when she arrived a little later that day to check on Naik, no one answered the door after which she decided to wait for Lillapa.
Katne told the police that after Lillapa arrived, she took the keys and hurriedly opened the door. They found Naik lying in the kitchen, with her hands tied and mouth and nose stuffed with cloth. They informed the police around 11pm. The police took custody of the body and started investigating.
Senior inspector Mahendra More of Navghar police station said that during the probe they found that Laxmi Naik’s gold earrings worth Rs 45,000 and cash of Rs 1,400 were missing.
A sniffer dog was brought to the premises the same night. The dog was made to sniff a handkerchief which was found near the body. The dog led the policemen towards Mulund railway station, perhaps indicating that the perpetrator may have boarded a train after committing the crime. The cops found a fingerprint on one of the utensils, but it was an unfit print.
CCTV camera footage was also of no help. The neighbours had not seen anyone entering the house. The police also tried to investigate if there was any property, money or family dispute and questioned all the relatives and neighbours.
Laxmi Naik had a cellphone and the call data records reflected one call from the day before her death but the police couldn’t identify the caller as the person had called from a public phone. Police also checked the call data records of her relatives for clues.
More said: “The rope which was used to tie her hands, we made enquiries about it in several shops and construction sites where it is normally found.”
The police started asking their sources if anyone was missing from the area after the incident.
They also investigated history-sheeters. The Navghar police had registered a case under Sections 302 (murder), 397 (robbery)and 452 (house trespass after preparation for hurt, assault or wrongful restraint) of the IPC.
The police said that after speaking with neighbours and the family, they had two suspects on whom they wanted to conduct a lie detector test. The court, however, did not permit them to carry out the tests. They were, however, given permission for psychological tests of the suspects and some family members, but those too led the investigators nowhere.