On January 7, 2017, railway police found the body of a boy aged stuffed in a suitcase placed near the parcel office at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT). The boy was wearing navy blue trousers and a light blue shirt, with a ‘Milli Garments’ tag. A printed saree and a bedsheet were used to cover the body. It was however a tag on the suitcase that eventually helped the Tilak Nagar police solve the case.
An officer linked to the probe said they found a tag at the bottom of the red suitcase with A-1 written on it. A search for the manufacturer led the police to a unit located in Mumbai.
“The manufacturer told us he had sent the red suitcases to only two shops in Mumbai. One place was sent six units, the other was sent 24 units. He gave us the addresses of the two shops,” the officer said.
At the first shop where six suitcases had been sent, police found that all the suitcases had been sold in September itself. “The bag seen in the footage on January 8 seems comparatively new. Hence we did not think it was linked to the case,” the officer said.
A crime branch team then went to the shop in Malad where 25 suitcases had been sent. There the shop owners identified that the red suitcase seen in the CCTV footage was sold from their unit. The team then checked records and scanned CCTV footage for the day the suitcase was sold.
“In the footage, we could see two men purchasing the suitcase at around 4 pm, three hours before it was found at LTT with the body,” the officer said.
The probe team could not see where the duo went after leaving the shop, as images from CCTV cameras outside LTT were not very clear. “Around 7pm, the time around which the body was found, it was dark and one could only see silhouettes of people passing entering LTT. We however found images of the two men, though they were not very clear,” the officer said.
Suspecting that the accused hailed from the same area, they released photographs of the two men seen in the CCTV footage. The police team spent over 10 days disguised as migrants looking for work, camping at haircutting salons and local pan shops in Malad-Kandivali to get intelligence on the two men they suspected to be behind the murder.
Eventually it was the 5000 posters put up in the area that helped them as they received an anonymous call from a person who said the two men stayed in the nearby Appapada area.
Six members of a family, suspected to be involved in luring underage kids from Bihar and getting them to work in the city, were arrested by the Mumbai police. Police found that the name of the boy who was killed was Randhir Sahni.
The accused had employed Randhir at a workshop making imitation jewellery in Malad. Randhir got into a fight with the accused Ranvijay Sahni – whose family had got the boy to the city to work at their workshop — and the latter allegedly smothered him in a fit of rage. It was to protect one of their own that the Sahni family decided to dispose of the boy’s body in a suitcase.
The accused informed the boy’s mother that he had passed away in the city due to some health complications. Police found that the accused family had employed several underage children from Bihar, like Randhir at their workshop in Mumbai.