It has been eight years since three minor girls were allegedly raped and murdered within months of each other in 2010, in the Nehru Nagar area of Kurla in the central suburbs of Mumbai.
While one of the three cases was solved and the accused was sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in 2015, the other two cases remain undetected. The police said the two undetected cases continue to remind them of how one or more accused got away.
On the evening of February 9, 2010, a six-year-old girl was playing outside her house in Nehru Nagar. Within minutes, she was nowhere to be seen. A frantic search was started by her family members and, within hours, her body was found on the steps of a nearby housing society. There were signs that the minor had been sexually abused before being killed.
A month later, on March 7, 2010, a similar case of a nine-year-old girl being raped and murdered occurred. This time, the body was dumped on the terrace of police quarters of Nehru Nagar Police Station, who were investigating the first case. The police began looking for clues into whether the accused behind both the incidents was same.
“Since the modus operandi of both the cases were similar, there was a strong suspicion that there was one accused behind both the cases. We began looking for common links but before anything could be found there was a third incident,” said an investigating officer.
Another nine-year-old’s body was found on the roof of a house at Vatsalatai Nagar in June 2010. The incident created panic in the entire area. Besides investigation, the police had another task — to prevent the suspected “serial killer” from committing any more such crimes.
“Police officials would visit each and every school in the area to speak to parents regarding safety of their children. CCTV cameras were installed in the entire area, including the dense slums,” said Dilip Sawant, the then deputy commissioner of police of the area.
Even as the focus shifted to prevention, the investigation remained in what policemen described as a “blind case”. From physical searches in every house in the entire area to looking for leads, and engaging four to five psychologists to narrow down on the ‘profile’ of the accused“From the available clues in the way the minors were kidnapped, the choosing of the victims, the dumping of the bodies and the places chosen to do that, we had arrived at a possible profile of the accused to understand his probable age and behaviour. We even questioned every household on whether there was anyone who fit the profile, but there was no headway,” said an official.
The police also conducted DNA tests of all who had proximity to the victims, including family members, friends, and those who came into the locality daily for work, including at the hundreds of small industrial units in the area. This included DNA tests of over 800 persons. The police claim that this had given them a breakthrough in solving the third case, but the accused’s DNA did not match with the accused in the previous two cases.
“Though the accused’s DNA did not match the samples retrieved from the first two victims, after his arrest the incidents stopped, making us believe that either the same man or his accomplices were behind the other two offences. But, there was never any evidence to prove that,” said an official.
Most of the police officials involved in the investigation of the case said they were hopeful that it will get solved. So do the parents of the two girls, who continue to look for a closure. Police officials at Nehru Nagar said the family members visit the police station some times to enquire about the progress of the cases.