TRIAL IN the 11-year-old rape and murder of two girls in two separate incidents in Nehru Nagar, Kurla, has begun. The two cases remained unsolved for eight years till the accused, Rehan Qureshi, was arrested in September 2018.
In the first incident, which occurred on February 8, 2010, a six-year-old girl playing outside her home was reported missing. Her body was recovered in a gunny bag on the staircase of a building in Nehru Nagar. Within a month, a nine-year-old went missing and her body was recovered on the terrace of the police quarters close to Nehru Nagar police station which was also investigating the first case.
In the first case, the deposition of the first witness, the victim’s father, has begun. The in-camera proceedings took place earlier this month. In the second case, the court has directed the police to issue summons to witnesses. The court commenced the trial after Qureshi pleaded not guilty to the offences. In both the cases, he faces the charges of kidnapping, rape and murder.
Initially, the court sought for the case to be tried before the special court designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. But, since the Act came into place only in 2012, the incident dating back to 2010 cannot come under its ambit.
“Perusal of the charge sheet reveals that the incident took place on February 8, 2010. Though the victim was a minor on that said date, at that time the POCSO Act was not in course. Hence, the matter be placed before the Principal Judge…,” the court said.
Along with these two cases, Qureshi is facing over ten cases of sexual assault in the city and in Navi Mumbai. In one case under the POCSO Act in Bhoiwada, the court granted him bail in November 2019 as the charge sheet was not filed within three months of arrest.
In 2010, three incidents of rape and murders of minors had taken place within a few months in the Nehru Nagar area. In the third case, the police had arrested local resident Javed Shaikh who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015. The first two cases remained unsolved despite the police conducting 880 DNA tests and looking through over 500 hours of CCTV footage.
In 2018, while investigating cases of sexual assault in Navi Mumbai, the police claimed to have also cracked the two Nehru Nagar cases.