Bhandara rape: Police look for drivers who used highway near crime scenehttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/bhandara-rape-police-look-for-drivers-who-used-highway-near-crime-scene/

Bhandara rape: Police look for drivers who used highway near crime scene

Bodies of the siblings aged 10,nine and six were found in a well at Murmadi village on the afternoon of February 16,two days after they went missing.

Bhandara police investigating the alleged rape and murder of three minor siblings in Lakhani tehsil have sent teams across the country to look for drivers who plied heavy vehicles on national highway 7 from afternoon to late evening on February 14,the day the girls went missing.

Of the 700 heavy vehicles identified so far,70 took more than two-and-a-half hours — much more than average time — to cover the distance between the two toll posts closest to the crime scene,said police.

Bodies of the siblings aged 10,nine and six were found in a well at Murmadi village on the afternoon of February 16,two days after they went missing.

Bhandara SP Arti Singh said police had identified two toll posts,on either side of Murmadi,at Karda and Saundad junctions.

“As the scene of crime was next to the national highway,we are checking vehicles (based on toll post records) that crossed the village on NH7 that day. It should not take more than one-and-half hours average to cover the 45 km. We are looking for vehicles that took more time,” she said.

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Police are also checking with the eateries between the posts to ascertain if a driver spent additional time on the stretch. “It is a massive exercise. Ownership of many of these vehicles has changed hands. We have made inquiries with all vehicle-owners and zeroed in on 70 vehicles that took a very long time to cross. The drivers are in Nagaland,Orissa and West Bengal and other parts of the country,” Singh said.

The case mystery deepened after local surgeons claimed rape,while a separate study by forensic experts in New Delhi and Mumbai ruled out sexual assault and said the siblings died of drowning.

This month,police roped in a forensic psychiatrist from Nagpur to understand the eldest siblings. The teams interviewing her friends,family and teacher have built a profile of a ten-year-old who “suddenly became stubborn” and “difficult” since January.

Police said her mother reported seeing signs of rebellion and officials at the school where the younger siblings studied said she made two “unsuccessful attempts” to get them out. Teams of doctors and experts from state forensic laboratory also visited crime scene at the beginning of this month. Police said they would recreate how the girls possibly reached the well and died.

Meanwhile,a CBI spokesperson in New Delhi said there were a few technical problems in transfer of the case. “We expect to start the probe soon. The technical issues are almost sorted out.”

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