More than two years after a woman’s body was found, hacked, in two red suitcases on the Ghatkopar-Mankhurd Link Road, the police are yet to establish the woman’s identity. Investigators have tried everything, from announcing a cash reward of Rs 25,000 for a tip off about the case to locating readers of a particular newspaper, but with over two years of investigation, the police have nothing to show for it. The murder mystery continues to hurt
On December 13, 2015, a technician working on the maintenance of a traffic signal near the Mahavir Platinum building at Indian Oil Nagar in Chembur (East) spotted a large red suitcase in the gutter along the road. The police opened the suitcase to find a woman’s body, her throat slit and both hands chopped off. Soon, they found another suitcase — which had clothes and the woman’s hands, chopped below the elbow — in the same gutter. Based on the postmortem, the local Deonar police registered a case of murder and started investigation into the matter.
An investigating officer in the case said that typically the most crucial element in solving a murder crime is the identification of the body. In this case, the officer said, the body was of a woman with fair skin and aged between 30 and 40 years. Based on the cotton night-gown found on the body, she was suspected to be from a lower middle class family. Her face was slightly decomposed, so her sketch was made and 5,000 copies were pasted in the vicinity, the officer said, adding that nobody came forward to identify her. “Or if the family was involved, they did not come forward,” said the officer.
No one was seen coming to the spot where the body was dumped and the CCTV footage could not capture any face. “There has to be at least two persons involved and we suspect they came in a vehicle,” the officer added. “The question is, however, why was this spot chosen? It points to some local link, someone who was aware about the isolated spot,” the officer added.
Police also trawled through missing person’s complaints from across Maharashtra and nearby states. One or two cases appeared to be a match, including one in Sanpada, only to be proven as false alarms. One striking thing about the body was that one side of the woman’s hair appeared to have something like dreadlocks, while the other side was uncombed. “It could have been due to blood clotting on one side that made the hair appear that way. But there is also a sect in Karnataka whose members keep their hair that way. We checked there but nobody could identify the body,” said the officer.
From brass rings on her fingers and from a white thread around her ankles, the police suspected that the woman was a Hindu, but the bag that they found had a taveez (amulet) with a Quranic verse in it. “We found that the taveez was made by a religious leader from Null Bazaar in south Mumbai. The person had passed away but his son confirmed that the taveez was made by his father. However, the man was quite popular and there were so many people that came to him that it was impossible to get leads on the particular person,” said the officer.
The other lead was two copies of the Inquilab, an Urdu daily, that were found in the bag. “We went to the main office of the newspaper and got the address of all their vendors. We then tried visiting houses trying to see if anyone from these houses had been reported missing,” the officer said, adding that though some leads appeared, they also proved to be dead ends.
The last time that the police thought they were close to solving the case was when they found the initials of a laundry mark on a bedsheet in the bag. “We found a laundry with the similar initials. It, however, turned out that a part of the mark had been wiped out… and in spite of several attempts we could not find the laundry shop,” the officer added.
Senior Inspector of Deonar police station Dattatray Shinde said: “While the case in unsolved, we are trying our best.”
Another officer at the station said, “The case is at the back of our mind every time we go to any crime scene. Our superiors tell us to solve this case as a test. These are cases that require good investigation skills.”