Nine months after two boys, aged 11 and 13 years, allegedly committed suicide following repeated sexual abuse, the search for the perpetrator of the crime has come to nought. The two minors had allegedly consumed rat poison on July 12. Since then, the Powai police said they have questioned more than 400 people, including 150 children. Five special teams, comprising an officer and two constables from every police station in Zone 10, were formed to probe the case, police added. The Mumbai Police Crime Branch was also conducting a parallel probe, but investigators are yet to zero in on a suspect.
The 13-year-old, who had regained consciousness for a while before he died, had murmured the name ‘Zaheer’ on July 19, 2017, police said. However, an officer added, family members of the boys differed over the name. While his mother said the boy had said Zaheer, another relative said it was Zaid. Police had also questioned the father of the 11-year-old victim since he had a similar sounding name. His son had died a week ago. “The 11-year-old was declared dead due to dehydration and, as the family suspected no foul play, he was buried without a post-mortem,” said an officer.
“The second minor (aged 13), who started vomiting later, informed his parents about the incident and revealed that a few of the people who were sodomising them, were very dangerous. He had also revealed the name of the alleged accused, but there was confusion whether he said Zaheer or Zaid. His mother had heard Zaheer but other relatives heard Zaid,” said an investigator.Based on the victim’s revelation and medical reports, a case of unnatural offences was registered against unknown accused.
“We waited at the hospital for days, hoping that the 13-year-old regains consciousness, and we could get more information about the offender. Unfortunately, he died days after slipping into a coma. The father of the 11-year-old was brought in for questioning, who pleaded innocence. At first, we suspected his involvement. He did not inform the father of the second victim despite knowing that his son, too, had consumed rat poison,” said an officer.
But since nothing suggested that the victim’s father could have been involved, police started scanning the voters’ list of the area. Every one named Zaheer and Zaid was called for questioning. Police said they have questioned around 122 people named Zaheer, Zaid and Javed, of which nine had a criminal record. As the second victim had said the offenders were dangerous, the investigators had also questioned those with a criminal record in the Filter Pada area of Powai.
Later, the police learnt that the two minors were usually accompanied by a third child, who may have been aware of what the boys had been going through.
“These three were close friends in school. He (the friend) apparently had an idea of what was coming, but didn’t tell anyone. The day the second victim died, the third minor left for his native place along with his family. Their movement is suspicious. A team was sent to Uttar Pradesh and he was brought to the police station. We questioned him for six days but the kid was very smart and tackled every question smoothly. We still feel that there was something going among the three boys,” said an officer.
The post-mortem reports revealed brutal injuries on the private parts of the deceased. However, doctors said the two were not sodomised in the last three weeks before their death.
Police said every person who had left the area in and around July 2017 was called to the police station. “We had called a 20-year-old to the police station who was seen sexually assaulting a dog in the public toilet. The incident was witnessed by one of the victims’ father. The dog had died and a separate case was registered against him and he was arrested,” said an investigator.
In the hunt for leads, police visited the schools of the two minors and talked to their classmates. They also tried getting details from the children at the park and grounds frequently visited by the two minors.
However, the investigators are still working on the tip-offs, hoping to make headway in the case. Meanwhile, the father of the 13-year-old has demanded a CBI probe. “The local police have failed miserably… Since the time of the incident, they haven’t called us, or updated about their investigation. In fact, whenever we went to the police station, officers would claim that their probe was heading in the right direction. I demand a CBI probe, as I feel that they will catch the culprits and give us justice.”