In an attempt to clear a loan her husband took, a 27-year-old homemaker Seema Dubey staged a robbery, found MIDC police in a fortnight-long probe. The woman who was frantic at first, eventually confessed to the alleged crime after the police with the help of forensics pointed to her that all the injuries on her body were self-inflicted, and only in the direction and extent that her hands could reach.
Further, the 150 matchsticks used to give her burn marks looked strange, especially since each was used only to the extent of the gunpowder and with rest of the stick left unused. On April 29, Dubey approached the police with cut marks and burn injuries on her body, alleging that a couple had forcibly gained entry into her house, assaulted her and fled with seven tolas of gold of her in-laws.
She was alone at the time of the alleged assault, leaving the police with no witnesses. In her panic-stricken state in which she gave the statement, she said the stolen gold belonged to her sister-in-law and mother-in-law. The woman had also alleged that she collapsed after the attack, and was ‘found’ lying on the floor by her husband when he returned home after work.
Sketches of the couple were prepared based on her description and a man hunt was launched for the illegal trespasser duo. The MIDC police registered a case of robbery against an unidentified couple. The woman was admitted to Holy Spirit Hospital in MIDC, where the police recorded her statement.
The police’s first suspicion was that a new robbers’ gang was involved with lone homemakers chosen as targets. The leads and the information were passed on to the Mumbai crime branch, detection’s property cell and anti-robbery cell to track a new possible modus-operandi.
Couples were tracked whose sketches matched the description given by the woman. Officers of the juridictional zonal police stations also went around warning women in neighbouring locality to be careful while opening doors to any couple duo, who asked for water or directions.
The first doubt was raised after the police conducted a proper study of the jewellery box. “The section with the victim’s ornaments remained untouched. It seemed strange that the robbers fled just with the ornaments belonging to the victim’s in-laws,” Arun Bhagt, senior police inspector of MIDC police said. At the spot, 150 burned matchsticks were found, with just the gunpowder utilised. “They remained on the floor, scattered, which looked suspicious. Why would a robber burn only the gunpowder?,” Bhagt said.
The woman’s nine-month-old daughter who was in the other room was not harmed either. “We asked around, but did not find a single witness, who heard the woman’s cry or saw anyone enter the victim’s house,” the police officer added. After the initial probe, a decision was taken to get the nature of the wounds examined at King Edward Memorial hospital by a special team of doctors. The five-panel team of doctors concluded that the cut injuries and burn marks on the woman’s body were self-inflicted.
“She broke down and confessed that her husband was in debt and she wanted to help him with the ornaments of her in laws,” said Bhagt. On Monday, the woman took the police to a water tank near her house where the ornaments were concealed. “We have recovered the jewellery and will now prepare a chargesheet against Dubey,” added Bhagt.