The man arrested for the alleged rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in Juhu last week had told an earlier victim — who he had sexually assaulted in 2013 — that he had murdered three other girls in the past.
Vadivel Devendra alias Gundappa (35) was convicted and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment in 2013 for sexually assaulting a nine-year-old in the same area. He was arrested again on Saturday for kidnapping, raping and murdering another nine-year-old after the victim’s body was found dumped in a public toilet in Nehru Nagar, Vile Parle.
In the previous incident, according to the judgment given by a special court designated under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, the accused had on January 31, 2013, kidnapped the nine-year-old when she had stepped out of her house to buy washing powder from a nearby shop. The accused forcibly took her to the roof of a hut and began sexually assaulting her.
“She has also stated that the accused pointed a knife towards her and threatened her that if she told anyone about it, he would murder her. He also told her that he had murdered three girls in the past and that he would also kill her,” read the judgment in the previous case. After the assault, the girl went to her house and narrated the incident, following which an FIR was registered at Juhu police station.
The court accepted the victim’s deposition and found Devendra guilty of criminal intimidation, for which he was sentenced to a year in prison. The court also found him guilty under sections including 366 (kidnapping), 377 (unnatural intercourse) and 354 (sexual harassment) of the IPC and sentenced him to seven years in jail. He was released six months ago after completion of over five years in jail, following the remission system and good conduct.
Devendra had sought leniency by stating he was young and had recently gotten married. “Considering the nature of the offence and the fact that this is an offence of sexual nature against the minor which is a social evil, accused does not deserve leniency,” the court had said. The court had taken into account the deposition of six witnesses including that of the victim, her mother and the medical officer who examined the girl.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to the Director General of Police, Maharashtra and the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai calling for a detailed report in the matter within four weeks after taking suo motu cognizance of the current case. The girl had gone missing from her home on April 4 and her body was found in the septic tank of a public toilet two days later.
“The Commission also expects to have a report giving details of the mechanism adopted by the police authorities to address the issue more effectively,” said the NHRC. It has also said the area lacks proper patrolling and monitoring by police and that they are “expected to be vigilant” so that such heinous crimes could be averted.